As part of its regular parish outreach Cathedral Chapel supports a number of organizations that serve those in need in the archdiocese --- notably, SVON (St. Vibiana Outreach to the Needy), a monthly collection of food for the hungry connected to the former cathedral from which this parish was created.
The parish --- referred to by its members as Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana --- also supports activities around the archdiocese: the Margaret Aylward Center in Pico Rivera, sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Faith, and the Good Shepherd Center for Homeless and Battered Women and Children. Groups of parishioners also visit the sick and elderly at the Hancock Park Rehabilitation Center and they collect food and gift cards for the homeless in the area.
And service reaches inward as well as outward from this Fairfax district parish. With the assistance of the Shea Family Foundation, the Cathedral Chapel School Board, parents and donations from parishioners, more than $250,000 has been raised to renovate the school (including a recently-completed science lab) and purchase equipment including microscopes, an Apple TV and projectors.
Principal Tina Kipp is especially proud of the support received from Cathedral Chapel School’s board, parents and alumni. “They look at Catholic education as a real advantage for life and they generously support that belief,” she says.
A school board member recently said to her, “Cathedral Chapel School exists for one reason and one reason only: Jesus Christ. He is the ever-present teacher in each and every one of our classrooms. We are a Catholic school, not a private school.”
The board member, says Kipp, articulated the board’s and school’s mission well: “To strengthen our students’ relationship with God and give them a moral compass that will serve them for a lifetime.”
Father Truc Nguyen, pastor of Cathedral Chapel, is proud that his people take ownership of their parish. “We have a small, faith-filled, multi-cultural family environment, and the school dynamic is incredible,” he says, noting that the school is also part of the consortium of schools in the archdiocese that provides iPads to students in grades 6-8.
When Father Truc arrived as pastor, he combined efforts of the parish’s existing Liturgy Council and re-named the group the Pastoral Liturgy Council, expanding its responsibilities so that it also operates much like a parish or pastoral council.
“We are small and dynamic enough that we know each other by name, too,” he adds. “And so many people become involved.”
One of those persons is Pastoral Liturgy Council member Fran Manion, a parishioner for more than 25 years, a Eucharistic minister and involved in RCIA. On a recent Tuesday morning she was joined by other parishioners in the “untrimming” of the church of its Christmas decorations and lights. Fran has also been very involved in day-to-day needs of the parish, such as training office staff in use of the new parish database.
“I like the community here and Father Truc as the pastor,” says Manion. “People talk to each other, and like each other — not that you get to know everyone, but it’s a very welcoming parish.”
To her, “being church means coming together to worship God, to pray and receive the Eucharist — that’s the liturgical part. But the other part is being welcoming, making people feel comfortable — it is an honest, Christian, Catholic experience. The people here are committed to the Church. And there is always an invitation to come and participate. It means being part of the family.”