The Pasadena area was served by the priests of San Gabriel Mission before the founding of St. Andrew parish in 1886. It was not until February 1921, that Bishop John C. Cantwell established St. Philip the Apostle parish. St. Philip’s first pastor was Fr. Daniel O’Connell; our first Mass was celebrated on March 1, 1921, in a rented hall over the East Side hardware store on Colorado at Chester. Fr. O’Connell secured an acre of ground at the corner of Hill Avenue and Division (now Cordova Street) Streets and hired architect John C. Austin to draw plans for the church, $27,193. The parish assumed debt of $50,000, a sizable amount for the members who lived within the area bounded by Mountain Ave., Rosemead Blvd., Huntington Drive and El Molino Street. Bishop Cantwell dedicated the new church on Jan. 29, 1922, with an enthusiastic crowd present and surprising four inches of snow on the ground.
In 1926 a princely gift of $25,000 allowed purchase of property through to Holliston and founding the parish school. An old building served as the convent for the Sisters of Charity of the BVM, and fifty pupils were enrolled for classes in a new school building in September 1927. The two first ministries in this energetic parish were the Altar Society and the school’s Mother’s Guild.
Fr. O’Connell’s successor, Fr. Thomas O’Regan, came to St. Philip at the age of 67 and served for twenty years. In 1947, after the years of depression and war, a committee of parishioners planned with the pastor a new, larger church to accommodate the growing membership. The cornerstone of the beautiful church we enjoy today was laid in 1950. Under the leadership of our third and succeeding pastors, Msgr. William North. Msgr. Carl Gerken, Msgr. Clifford Parker, Msgr. Gary Bauler and, since 1998, Fr. Joe Moniz, our church has been lovingly maintained and embellished by many fine works of art through the members’ continuing generosity.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the parish property was enlarged to its present limits. New school buildings, a rectory, and the parish center were constructed to allow expanded ministries. Msgr. North carried out the changes of Vatican Council II. Msgr. Gurken inspired the development of a fine music program to support the liturgy. Msgr. Parker emphasized strengthening the academic program of the school and established the RCIA program. Msgr. Bauler was very active e in fostering a dynamic parish school; a lay school board, annual giving campaign, and endowment fund were instituted. A new organ was installed.
Our 7th pastor, Fr. Joe Moniz, retired in 2018 after serving our parish 20 years. His tenure has seen many enhancements to the parish campus, including the meditation garden, the new school buildings and Holy Angel Hall, church restoration, and a new baptistery. Above all, Fr. Joe’s leadership has been decisive in community building activities that bring together and inspire the people of a community “rich in diversity and united in our common faith” so that the Gospel of Jesu Christ may be proclaimed and lived.
We welcomed our 8th pastor, Fr. Tony Gomez, on 1st of July, 2018.
* A booklet on the art of St. Philip’s Church, compiled by former associate pastor Msgr. Marc Trudeau, is available.