Established: November 1925Location: 942 West 70th Street, Los AngelesOur Lady of the Angels Region: Deanery 16In the year 1925, the city of Los Angeles boasted a population of over one million, many were considered “tourists,” as the charm of Southern California, assisted by an increase in train travel, became a magnet for travelers.It was an eventful year in the Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego, created in 1922. On June 29, a 6.8 earthquake struck the city of Santa Barbara at 6:40 a.m. The entire center of the city was severely damaged, half of the fa√ßade of Santa Barbara Mission crumbled, and adjacent St. Anthony College was completely wrecked. On a more positive note, 1925 also saw the establishment of the Propagation of the Faith under Msgr. John Cawley, the Ephpheta Society for the deaf under the direction of Father Leroy Callahan and the arrival of the Paulist Fathers to Los Angeles.Bishop John Cantwell established eight new parishes that year and 15 churches and chapels were dedicated. There were 90 schools in the diocese with a total registration of almost 19,000 students.The new parishes included St. Raphael in South Los Angeles, whose first Masses were held in a store on Vermont until the attractive Tudor gothic church was built a year later. Within a month after the parish was established, resolute parishioners started active Altar and Holy Name societies, while everyone fought the distraction of clanging street car bells from the Yellow Car line that cut through the parish grounds. St. Raphael was served initially by diocesan pastors, Fathers William Mullane and Noel Dillon. A native of Limerick, Ireland, Father Mullane was ordained in 1920 and served for seven years. After his ministry at St. Raphael, Father Mullane was appointed pastor of St. Brendan parish where during his eight years there he inaugurated the broadcast of Mass each Sunday. For 23 years he was pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Altadena and then appointed as the first administrator of the Catholic parish in Leisure World. He died in 1966 at age 69.In 1934 Bishop Cantwell invited Carmelite Father William P. Russell to establish a Carmelite community in Los Angeles. The Carmelites (Religious of the Order of Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) were soon to follow in 1935 as parish leaders and educators. A native of County Tipperary, Father Russell was ordained in 1925 and completed graduate work at Fordham University. He was the first principal of Mount Carmel High School (named for the Biblical reference to the prophet Elijah) that started as a one-room school in St. Raphael’s parish hall with an enrollment of 37 boys. The school was built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the first constructed in the new seismic building code. It grew to 600 students in the early 1960s and at one time served boys from 40 parishes but declining enrollment forced its closure in 1976. Father Russell, well known as a preacher and retreat master, served five years as pastor and as principal of the high school until 1946. In 1947 he was elected the American provincial of the Carmelite Fathers. He died in 1975 at age 72.The Carmelite Fathers have continued their ministry at St. Raphael, although records do not list of all their individual contributions. However, there is information for several of the pastors. Among those who are listed is Father Sylvester Maher, born in Brooklyn, who served from 1950 to 1966, then on the faculty of the high school until 1971. At the parish he was known for his interest in liturgy, concern for youth and for the sick. He died in 1971 at age 68. His Carmelite successor was Father Frederick (Flavian) Wilson from Chicago (1966-71), having previously served 11 years as the Carmelite vocation director; he died in 1974. He was followed by, Father Matthias Ewing (1971-79), who taught at the high school and was an associate before appointed to head the parish. At the parish golden jubilee in 1975, Father Ewing said: “St. Raphael’s is not one of priests and buildings. The people are the soul and backbone of the parish.” He also noted that the parish is blessed with racial and cultural variety, all working together. Father Matthew Sprouffske, a native Angeleno, former altar server at St. Raphael, alumnus of Mt. Carmel and principal of the school for seven years, was appointed pastor in 1980. He praised his parishioners as “fantastic people — generous, helpful and cooperative. They reach out to others in a marvelous way.” His pastorate ended in 1989 and he died in 2005 at age 78. The current pastor is Father Tracy O’Sullivan, a native of Chicago ordained in 1962. He has served at St. Raphael since 1994, leading parishioners in devotion to one of the seven Archangels who stand before the Lord (and one whose feast day, with Archangels Michael and Gabriel, is Sept. 29). Raphael’s name means “God Heals” and he is the patron of the blind, physicians and travelers — an appropriate patron for this multicultural parish that welcomes and serves all in need. {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0315/raphaelside/{/gallery}