Christ is present in more than a building, bishop tells parishioners.

Pouring rain could not stop St. John Fisher parishioners from celebrating another phase in the life of the parish on top of the Rancho Palos Verdes hills.

During his homily, minutes prior to the Nov. 20 groundbreaking ceremony of the church’s new facility next door to the current building, Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Solis encouraged the assembly to reflect if Christ is the one who rules over their lives on top of material possessions.

“If Christ reigns in our heart, if He is present in our lives, how much do we value his presence?” the San Pedro Region bishop asked parishioners.

Then he invited the assembly to think of how much time they devote to prayer compared to watching television, or how much time they spent “talking with Christ” compared to the time exchanging emails or texting.

“Kinship also has a worldly connotation,” he said. “There’s kinship in baseball, basketball and rock and roll, but do we show kinship through our service, compassion and love.” 

Citing the day’s reading from Ezekiel, Bishop Solis suggested that more important than the building is to seek Christ in practical ways of human life, aspects or conditions.

“Jesus is present in the Eucharist, the homeless, drug addicts, undocumented immigrants, in the family, children, neighbors, or in those dying in Africa --- and in those who don’t recognize Him,” he remarked.

In a special ceremony after the Mass he commended the pastoral council for the “fruits of its labor.”

“You are the eyes and ears of Msgr. [David] Sork [pastor],” he told them.

The nine-year process took many public hearings to get the construction plan approved by the city as well as settling a lawsuit from local neighbors with whom an agreement was reached, plus many years of church pledges (more than $15 million was collected) and the archdiocese’s approval. 

“The fun part is beginning now,” said Lisa Hills, pastoral council chair, who grew up in the parish. “The hard part is over and it was done with faith in our dream and vision.”

“And we’re happy that construction is starting in the church’s jubilee year,” continued the math teacher.

Unlike the current church, passers-by will be able to see the new building at the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Crest Road. It will be built in between the school and the current building, which will be used as an Activity Center, especially for youth upon completion of the new church.

“I’m very excited that this project is finally starting,” said Lori Daniels, a donor and parishioner for the last 32 years with her husband Rich. She was part of the capital campaign when members of a committee visited the neighborhood door-to-door during the five-year pledge to inform families about the future project.

“This parish has always had an incredible leadership,” said pastoral council member Ron Stankey, a retired property insurance broker and parishioner since 1966. “There’s lots of fellowship and people willing to work in the community in the name of God and of the church. There are so many ministries.”

All donors were acknowledged by Hills during a question and answer session with architect Shelly Hyndman after the groundbreaking ceremony attended by more than 50 parishioners.

The architect explained landscaping and construction details, such as foundation work, which started in December, transfer of the stained glass in the old building to the new building and the new full capacity of 840 from the current 600.

Eucharistic minister Bob Trujillo also expressed his joy.

“I’m excited to see what happens once built,” said the longtime parishioner.

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