The history of Our Lady of Guadalupe is years and years of service and worship that stems back as far as 1920. In studying the history of our parish, we find it helpful to divide it into three distinct time periods. The first period, the Catechism school period dates from 1920-1927, then the Mission-Church period (1928-1957) that leads to the Parish-Church period, beginning in 1958 ’til today.

The following provides a brief explanation of each of the three time periods in OLG’s history.  For more captivating stories and facts from OLG’s history, check out Conventual Franciscan Presence in the South Bay written by Father Peter Mallin OFM CONV.

Catechism School Period 1920-1927

In 1920, the only parish serving the beach communities was St. James Parish in Redondo Beach. It was to this church that the Hispanic population of the South Bay traveled to attend religious services. Two parishioners of Saint James, Mrs. Gordon McDonald, and Miss Dewey were known to be responsible for beginning a Catechism school for the Latino population of the parish. At first, they held classes in their garages, but when the Catechism classes increased in size, they began looking for alternatives. Several lots were obtained by Saint James parish on the corner of Fifth street and Massey avenue.  And a small structure was built for the purpose of conducting Catechism classes. The building later became the Mission Church of St. James Parish, serving the needs of the Hispanic community.

1927 OLG Community

The Mission Church Period 1928-1957

It was due to the outbreak of persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico during the late 1920’s, that many priests fled Mexico and came to California. Some settled in Hermosa Beach and served the newly formed Mexican community. In 1927, a mission church of St. James Parish was established in Hermosa Beach. This mission church was named Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and was designated to meet the spiritual needs of the Hispanic community. From the 1920s to the early 1940s, the small mission church of Our Lady of Guadalupe hosted a number of priests that served the growing Hispanic community.

In the mid-1930s, Monsignor Jose Gutierrez of Guadalajara administered the mission for about five years. His wealthy background was needed for beautifying the church grounds at the time and constructing a small office behind the church.

In 1942, a certain stability was granted to the mission when Archbishop Cantwell, of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, appointed diocesan Father Cyril Wood as Administrator. During his assignment, Father Wood began efforts to expand the small mission. Fr. Wood had a small rectory built with a hall and installed electricity. This was a significant event considering electricity was previously obtained through a long extension cord that ran from the house across the street to the interior of the mission church. For the next fourteen years, Our Lady of Guadalupe hosted numerous diocesan priests.

In 1957, the Conventual Franciscan Fathers were appointed to be administrators of the mission church and have continued to serve the parish.

undated photo - OLG Church
OLG 1957

Parish Church Period 1958 – present

With the arrival of the Conventual Franciscans, Cardinal McIntyre elevated the mission church to parish status in February 1958.

With this new status, Our Lady of Guadalupe church experienced an increase in its community from 400 families to over 1000 families as a result of its newly defined boundaries.

Undated Photo - OLG
OLG 1960

Construct A New and Larger Church

Fr. Edmund Krolicki, OFM Conv. was appointed as the first Pastor of the parish. In 1958, Fr. Krolicki initiated plans to construct a new and larger church to meet the demands of the community which had outgrown its small mission church. In September 1959, construction was completed and Our Lady of Guadalupe was dedicated and opened its doors to its parishioners.

1958 - Church Planning
1958 Church Plans
1958 - Church construction
1958 - Church Construction

Construct A School

Two years later, the construction of the school was completed, and Our Lady of Guadalupe School was opened in October 1961. In the inaugural year, the school offered only first through fourth-grade classes. Additional grades up to eighth grade were added through the years. A Kindergarten class was added in 1985.

Fr. Raymond Mallett, OFM Conv., known to our parish as Father Ray, said then-pastor Fr. Samuel Bonikowski, OFM Conv. (Father Sam) built the school, after he completed a reconstruction and expansion of the church to accommodate a 1,500-family parish.

“He was a determined man. He knew what he was about. He needed to finish the church, build a school, and get it paid for,” Mallet said. “He saw the need for a Catholic school, and upon completion of the church he built the school, and paid for both.”

Both the “new” church and the school were funded in the 1960s by “donations and many tamale sales,” Mallet said. (Source: Hermosa Beach’s Catholic school turns 50)

Second graders gather for first communion in 1965. Father Samuel Bonikowski, the school builder, stands at right.

Church Remodel 2008

On the feast day of our patroness, December 12th, 2008, our parish celebrated its re-dedication mass for the completion of the much-needed remodel.

A video showing the construction progress through the remodeling project.

Solar Panel 2010

On Earth Day in 2010, we formally announced that the parish and community of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church will enjoy the distinction of becoming the first parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to go solar. The installation of solar panels on the roof of the school building will provide around 70 to 80 percent of the church’s power, and even as much as 98%. The cost of this project is expected to pay off within 9 to 10 years. This not only helps the church by eventually reducing the amount of electricity from the main grid but also helps the environment.

The installation of 252 rooftop panels made Our Lady of Guadalupe the first of 302 parishes in the Los Angeles Archdiocese to convert to solar power, with the largest such installation in Hermosa.

HERMOSA BEACH - 08/06/2010 - (Staff Photo: Scott Varley)

OLG Preschool 2011

In December of 2011, we began a project to build a new Preschool at OLG. The project took 8 months and officially opened for preschoolers on August 21, 2012.

New Building Addition 2017-2022

In the Fall of 2017, realizing the need for more space to better meet the needs of our growing community, Pastor Father Joseph Kim and School Principal April Breuder started the ball rolling to expand the existing school building. 

In the architectural drawing, the blue shows the new additions: a Fine Arts/Music/Multi-Purpose Room, STEM Lab, office space, and meeting space. Additionally, an outdoor gathering area was added outside the church (The OLG Portico). The entire project was a second-floor addition that helped us keep all of our existing parking spaces and included an ADA-compliant elevator.  Our community raised over $5M to fund this new building project. 

2019: Plans for New Building

Here is a short video highlighting major milestones during the new building Project

Bishop Marc Trudeau Blessing The New Building

New Evangelization Era – present

After decades of working on building the physical structure of our Church and School, in October 2022 we rolled out a new Pastoral Plan that defined a new Evangelization Era at OLG and a vision that we are:

Called by God, filled with the Holy Spirit, welcoming all to Discover, Follow and Share Jesus Christ.

Llamados por Dios, llenos del Espíritu Santo, acogiendo a todos a Descubrir, Seguir y Compartir a Jesucristo.

We are very excited to focus all efforts and energy on this New Era at OLG by building a spiritual church as Jesus commissioned us to go proclaim the Gospel and go make disciples.  Our entire Parish is invited to take part in the Centered In The Spirit – A Pathway to Discipleship. Click here to discover more about the New Evangelization Era

This, then is the history of our Lady of Guadalupe Church, from its beginning as a small center of education for the Latinos of South Bay, over 100 years ago to a thriving and active worshiping community. Called by God, filled with the Holy Spirit, welcoming all to Discover, Follow and Share Jesus Christ.