Church: Monsignor Torgerson and Fr. Prosper leading a procession of students onto the school yard for a blessing at the beginning of the school year. Courtesy photo

The mission of the St. Monica Catholic Community (stmonica.net) is to form loving disciples who will transform the world, all from the quiet confines of our four-acre block bordered by Lincoln and 7th, California and Washington. The parish was founded in Santa Monica in 1886 and moved to its present site in 1925 when the church building was completed. An elementary school followed several years later and a high school several years after that.   

St. Monica is blessed by the long-time pastoral leadership of Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson, a fixture on the faith scene in Santa Monica for over 35 years. His generous sense of hospitality fuels the parish’s call to live out the gospel message that “all are welcome.”

St. Monica Catholic Community is an active participant in the civic life of Santa Monica, often hosting community-wide and interfaith events. For example: 

● In early September we hosted a resource fair for the Westside Coalition (westsideshelter.org) at which 42 social service agencies provided explanations of their services to members of local faith communities. This was the first in-person event sponsored by the Coalition since pre-COVID days, and it was a great success. 

● On November 2 at 10 am we will host the annual interfaith memorial service in the church for those who died unhoused in the past year. St. Monica began this interfaith gathering in partnership with the Faith Committee of the Coalition over 10 years ago in recognition of those who attended services at our various congregations but who died without a formal service to mark their passing. It was expanded to include all those in our community, both formerly and currently unhoused, who died in the previous year.  Prayers are said, hymns are sung, and friends, family, and outreach workers share words of remembrance. 

● The day before Thanksgiving St. Monica will continue a 43 year tradition of hosting a Thanksgiving feast and boutique for over a thousand of our needy neighbors. This is an event at which all are truly welcome. Several hundred volunteers prepare and serve a full thanksgiving meal – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, and of course, pie! After their meal, the guests are offered toiletry kits, shoes, and clothes. Everyone leaves with their immediate needs satisfied.  

● As we move into the Christmas season, St. Monica will host a party for the families served by St. Joseph Center, complete with a visit from Santa. 

By hosting each of these community events, the parishioners of St. Monica are transforming the world one interaction at a time. 

Included among its many ministries serving the greater community are St. Monica Elementary School and St. Monica High School, recently reorganized into a single TK-12 school, Saint Monica Preparatory (saintmonicaprep.org). SMPREP educates nearly 700 students of varying faith traditions from over 70 zip codes across the greater Los Angeles area.  SMPREP explains its vision this way: “Character fostered in a close-knit community. Guidance based on the individual. Education developed both inside and outside the classroom. Spirituality discovered through Catholic teachings. We work hard, play with spirit, and grow together. Saint Monica Preparatory nurtures kind and accomplished students who graduate with a strong sense of self, prepared to meet the challenges of a successful life and act as responsible citizens in our world.” SMPREP is having an open house for TK through grade 12 on Sunday, Nov 6, from 1 to 4. All are welcome!

St. Monica looks forward to the new liturgical year marked by the beginning of Advent on the last Sunday of November. It continues to hold services both inside the Church and outside on the patio. One of the liturgies each day is live-streamed, as are two of the Sunday services. Confessions are heard each day except Sunday. 

As a tangible symbol that all are welcome, St. Monica boasts the Holy Grounds Cafe on California midway between 7th and Lincoln, serving coffee and pastries from Urth Caffe. Come for a visit, enjoy a latte, stay for a liturgy, and then go out and spread the good news. 

Deacon Kevin McCardle is a newly ordained deacon serving at St. Monica, where he has been a parishioner since 2004. He is in his fifth year as President of Saint Monica Preparatory. He is the long-time chair of the board of St. Joseph Center.