Culminating an eight-year planning process and more than four years of fundraising, St. Monica Catholic Community formally began construction Jan. 15 of a major building project that will transform and strengthen its outreach and Christian service to its parishioners, students, friends and all of Santa Monica.

Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark presided at a Mass and groundbreaking ceremony to bless the ground and mark this moment in the parish’s 125-year history.

The project, supported by a fundraising campaign titled “Celebrating Our Blessings, Building Our Future, Together,” will include:

---a Community Center to replace the existing and cramped Pastoral Center; 

---a subterranean parking structure to increase the number of parking spaces on campus, alleviating parking congestion in Santa Monica; 

---the first major renovation to St. Monica High School’s gymnasium; 

---a new facility for St. Monica Elementary School, providing dedicated space for programs before, during and after school; 

---a reception facility for day and evening gatherings; 

---and a large new interior courtyard.

The project will also significantly enhance St. Monica’s environmental sustainability in stewardship of God’s creation. Many portions of the project will be open to the general public, including a new café, gathering spaces, and  limited parking.

Since 1994, the St. Monica parish has nearly tripled in size, to more than 9,000 registered households, making it one of the largest parishes in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. The current project is designed not for the parish to grow larger, but to accommodate previous growth.

The renovation to the St. Monica Catholic High School gym began last fall and is under construction. The recent groundbreaking marks the beginning of the biggest part of the project, the portion of the campus that fronts onto California Avenue and stretches north along Lincoln Boulevard.

To date, the St. Monica Catholic Community has raised nearly $24 million toward an ultimate goal of $27 million. The project is considered to be one of the most ambitious of any individual Catholic parish in United States history. While the campaign continues, its success so far, during a time of economic challenge and recession, is testament to the belief the community has in this project, and in its strong future serving Santa Monica and the world.

 “We are blessed here at St. Monica,” said Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, pastor. “And with this blessing come challenges. We welcome all, and God has graced our parish with the faithful whose numbers have increased, challenging our ability to welcome and serve them properly. Our project addresses that challenge.”

St. Monica’s landmark church building, which was rebuilt in 1995 after being severely damaged during the 1994 Northridge earthquake, is not part of the upcoming building project.

In February 2004, St. Monica began a series of workshops, discussions and meetings with hundreds of parishioners and school representatives to determine the campus needs for the foreseeable future. Those findings were brought to professional site planners who were also parishioners, and a plan was developed. 

The Master Site Plan Committee recommended a best course of action, which was approved by Msgr. Torgerson, the Parish Council, administration councils for the schools and unanimously by the Santa Monica City Council.

St. Monica Church was founded in 1886 and has been at its current location since 1926. St. Monica Elementary School joined the campus in 1930, and St. Monica High School in 1937. More information can be found at

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