Our Lady of the Assumption Parish
Strategic Pastoral Planning
Community: Common Life
Parish Community Spirituality
Unity and Diversity
The Poor, Marginalized , and Alienated
Leadership, Direction, and Decision Making
Christian Service and Outreach
Ministry to the Sick, Dying, and Grieving
Service and Advocacy
St. Vincent de Paul Society
Parish Support Services
The Role of the Parish Office
Buildings and Grounds
Parish Events and Facilities Usage
Facilities and Custodial Management
Evangelization and Initiation – RCIA
Worship – Liturgy
Parish Community Spirituality
HISTORICAL AND CURRENT PERSPECTIVE
OLA’s spiritual community life has its foundation in the mission of the parish to be "disciples of Jesus Christ" and to "Make the Good News of Jesus Christ present and alive...through evangelization and hospitality..."
There are several Christian Life Organizations, small faith-sharing communities, and prayer communities which promote the Good News of Jesus Christ within their members. The diversity and breadth of these many communities make up the overall spiritual life of the parish.
OLA’s spirituality is represented by the welcoming presence at Sunday liturgies. Overall, hospitality is seen as the function of the volunteers on the ushering team, which itself is made up of its own smaller communities or teams.
There are many Christian Life Organizations
AIDS/HIV Support Group
Divorced/Separated Support Group
Italian Catholic Federation
Knights of Columbus/Ladies of Columbus/Columbian Squires
Men of Promise
Natural Family Planning
Our Lady’s Rosary Prayer Group
Peace and Justice Ministry
Respect Life Group
Spirituality & Disabilities Community
Vatican II Study Group
OLA is a very large and complex parish, and perhaps overwhelming to a newcomer. One solution would be to have a Director of Volunteers and Organizations to work with an Evangelization committee, or Newcomers Club. Having welcoming sheets "fill out your name and address if you are visiting OLA today" in the pews at weekend liturgies and then creating a follow-up procedure for officially welcoming these newcomers and filling in the gaps which may make people feel "left out" in an otherwise friendly parish.
A comment should be made about the cultural diversity of the parish. The many cultural communities seem to thrive autonomously; however, there is a large gap in communications between these various communities and an unfortunate tendency for the Anglo community to serve as the host to the "other" communities. The budding relationships formed between the music leaders make music and liturgy an obvious catalyst for blending the communities. Music of various cultures and languages should be included at all liturgies, rather than segregating each liturgy to its own "kind."
It is a point of pride among the Spanish-speaking that the origins of Our Lady of the Assumption parish are historically tied to the Hispanic community. From its humble beginnings in what was commonly referred to as the "barrio" in Claremont, OLA has long served the Spanish-speaking resident of the neighborhood. Parishioners recall the days when Mass was celebrated in private homes, prior to the current church structure. Hispanic families actively participated in the fund raining and in the work involved in the building of the new church.
In the late 1970's, the Spanish Mass was instituted by Msgr. Barry. It was anticipated that Masses would be scheduled on a monthly basis and as popularity increased, Masses would be offered weekly. However, lack of interest and/or lack of communication led to the termination of the Spanish Mass until 1989 when Fr. Charles Ramirez rejuvenated interest following a successful Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration. Spanish-speaking Masses were minimally attended at first. As popularity grew, the community at-large was surprised to learn of the significant number of Hispanics in Claremont.
The Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration, originating in 1989, was a pivotal point in the Spanish-speaking community’s formation at OLA. It served not only as a unifying event for the multi-national Hispanic community, but as a catalyst for renewed interest in Spanish speaking worship services; including weekly Masses, cultural celebrations, and retreats. Leadership within the community credits Fr. Tom Welbers for their current organizational structure. The coordinator for Hispanic Ministry for the San Gabriel region was consulted to provide guidance and leadership to the Hispanic community. The result of this endeavor was the formation of Consejo Hispano (Hispanic Council).
Deacon Art Escovedo’s assignment includes service to the Spanish-speaking community. In addition to Deacon Art, Fr. Anthony and Fr. Tom officiate at the weekly Spanish Mass. The Hispanic Council represents the entire Spanish-speaking community and is governed by a President, Vice President, Secretary, and three officers who serve as an organizing body.
The diversity within the Spanish-speaking community includes parishioners from countries throughout Latin America. While the representative Latino culture in southern California is Mexican, recent immigrant trends from Central and South America account for the varied national backgrounds of our parishioners. Consequently, there is the potential for some division in customs and practices among the Spanish-speaking at OLA. Typically, this population represents middle- to low-income families whose main wage earner works multiple jobs. The majority are immigrant families whose primary language is Spanish.
There continues to be concern that the parish has not been assigned a Spanish-speaking priest. While the community gratefully acknowledges Deacon Art, Fr. Anthony, and, especially, Fr. Tom for their continued efforts to serve the spiritual and liturgical needs of the community, a Spanish-speaking priest of Hispanic descent continues to be a principal importance. Particularly noteworthy is Fr. Tom’s sincere commitment and dedication to meet the needs of the community by adding bilingual staff, appreciating customs and traditions, and providing financial support.
The Hispanic Council currently submits budget recommendations to the Finance Council. Management of the budget and fund raising also fall within the purview of the Hispanic Council.
An active Young Adult Group has become a vibrant and visible cornerstone of the Spanish-speaking community. Nueva Esperanza plans social functions, liturgical events, and spiritual formation events. Additionally, the Hispanic community also supports an Altar Server organization, a Prayer Group, a Married Couples Group, and a Spanish Choir, to name a few.
As with many organized groups, the need for dedicated space is of paramount importance. Currently, facilities are scheduled as needed and as available. Weekend retreats or other lengthy events are restricted by the lack of available space within the parish grounds. At minimum, an office with filing cabinets and storage space would provide support to the administrative work of the Council. It has been articulated that members of the community, and perhaps the leadership, sometimes feel like the "stepchildren" of the parish.
As Claremont continues to reflect the multi-cultural diversity of California, the Hispanic community at OLA is expected to increase in numbers. Undoubtedly, greater integration will take place as children of immigrants become independent and choose to attend the English-speaking Masses. However, it is clear that continued immigrant trends and cultural loyalty would necessitate the addition of more Spanish Masses. In the future, it is projected that two, if not three, Masses will be needed to serve this community.
Recommendations from the community are:
· Priest - continue efforts to attract bilingual priest of Hispanic descent to enrich the spiritual life of the community.
· Staff Position - (in the absence of a priest) to coordinate Hispanic Ministry activities.
· Dedicated Space - to support the efforts of the Hispanic Council, and, most importantly, a place to call "home."
· Budgetary Concerns - the community seems content with the current financial model.
· Religious Education - promote availability of programs currently offered and promote greater emphasis on formal religious education within the community.
Vietnamese Catholic Community
After the fall of South Vietnam in April 1975, there were about 150,000 Vietnamese evacuated from South Vietnam to the USA. There were four holding campuses to process these refugees before they were sponsored by American families or by religious institutions and churches. Camp Pendleton, being on of the sites, is located in southern California; therefore, many Vietnamese families were resettled in California.
The first Mass in Vietnamese for about 20 Vietnamese Catholic families in Pomona and the surrounding area was celebrated at Sacred Heart Church in July 1977. Since 1978, Fr. John Hoa Nguyen, who himself was also a new refugee, was assigned to be at our Lady of the Assumption Church to learn English and to assist with some pastoral works.
On July 19, 1979, Cardinal Timothy Manning wrote a letter to Msgr. William Barry, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church and who offered the use of the church for Vietnamese Mass, to officially make the arrangement for providing pastoral services for Vietnamese living in the areas. There were at that time about 40 Vietnamese Catholic families. Since then, Masses in Vietnamese have been offered every Sunday or Saturday.
At the present time, there are about 150 Vietnamese Catholic families (about 700 persons) in the parish. We provide a range of pastoral services to their spiritual growth and faith experiences such as counseling, education, catechism, Catholic Action organizations for different age groups, and sacraments for their living faith.
Characteristics of the Vietnamese Community: There exists a strong sense of living faith. Faithful participation in Sunday Mass is a primary strength.
A large number of flourishing organizations support Vietnamese culture as well as faith at OLA, namely, Fatima Youth Group, Choir, Vietnamese Mother Guild, Men’s Organization for Sacred Heart of Jesus, First Communion classes, Confirmation classes, religious education classes, Vietnamese language classes for children.
Our Vietnamese community is conscious of their religious and cultural identity which easily translated into group sharing, cooperation, and group responsibility.
In general the traditional spirituality is one of deep reverence for the Church’s spiritual leaders and teachings.
The language barrier often inhibits full participation in the life of the parish as a whole. Cultural differences often make interaction with other groups of the parish difficult.
As the Vietnamese community evolves at OLA, there should be greater motivation and opportunity for involvement in the parish at large. Leadership development needs to emphasize interaction and participation with other groups, different events and activities.
Accessibility of Catholic education appears to be high on the list of priorities and vital to the community’s sense of mission. Affordability and the need for financial assistance to attend the parish school, as well as the OLA After-School Program, are matters of concern.
Youth Ministry had a relatively high profile at OLA. There are mixed reviews concerning the level of functionality and/or effectiveness. Under the structure and the former director, Youth Ministry was organized to provide support to Jr. High, High School, and "Young Adult" populations. The Young Adult group is (was) very loosely defined to include college/ working/married/single with or without children individuals ranging from post high school to 35 years. The disparity in age and common interests seems to have been an ineffective model.
I understand that while the junior high group was large in numbers, the numbers did not lend themselves to effective programming. There are those who maintain that it functioned largely as an after-school child care option available primarily to OLA School families. Few parishioners outside of the OLA School community participated.
From my limited perspective, it seems that the high school program was somewhat limited and fewer in numbers than one would expect given the size of the parish. There is a common perspective that the OLA High School group was not inclusive and did not maximize "outreach" opportunities. On the other hand, there are those who are staunchly loyal to the Youth Ministry program as it existed and fiercely opposed the pastor’s decision to re-define and re-organize Youth Ministry.
The event that seems to have made the most significant impact on the parish community was the 1997 World Youth Day in Paris, a small group of "hand selected" young people to represent the parish at World Youth Day. Dubbing them "Pilgrims to Paris," these young members of the parish were extremely visible to the parish community throughout the entire period of preparation. These were young people who were very active and well regarded in the parish community. Together with the leadership of a strong parent volunteer team, they held several events that brought visibility to the pilgrimage, the pilgrims and casted a very favorable light on Youth Ministry in general.
The Youth Minister position was terminated and an advisory committee was assigned as a study group to re-invent Youth Ministry at OLA. Like many volunteer organizations, that group began with over 20 members and currently functions as a working committee of eight. The High School Advisory Committee has been largely responsible for setting the direction and forming the current model being used for High School Ministry. During the short period of time the Youth Ministry has been in place, the advisory committee has assumed the role of a support body. Since the departure of the Youth Minister position, the committee has once again stepped up to support the efforts of a vibrant Youth Core Team and Fr. Anthony Lee, who provides more than spiritual direction. The involvement and significance of the Youth Core Team cannot be understated. It is through their dedication and commitment that High School Ministry continues to grow and thrive. The investment the parish made by sending some of these young people to the LA Archdiocese Christian Leadership Institute in the Summer of ‘98 has returned countless dividends.
STAFFING - Youth Ministry is currently functioning with no youth minister. The only (quasi) functioning unit of Youth Ministry is high school ministry. Thanks to Fr. Anthony Lee, dedicated members of the High School Advisory Committee, and the efforts of a few youth leaders, there is a weekly meting. As of this writing, the budget only allowed for a part-time position. That position was occupied for approximately one year. Wheels are in motion for a full-time youth minister. The OLA Finance Council has recommended funding the position effective immediately. A search is underway.
PEOPLE SERVED - The only programming in place is for high school students. Surprisingly enough, 30-35 youth regularly attend the Sunday evening meetings following the 5:30 Youth Mass. People not served are junior high school and "young" adults.
FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS - An operational budget has been developed by the High School Ministry Advisory Committee. Without a youth minister in place, the budget is being underutilized. In fact, a substantial amount was unspent in fiscal year 98-99. Having no representation on the Finance Council, we are unaware of the budget implications for the newly approved full-time Youth Minister position.
FACILITY IMPLICATIONS AND NEEDS - As with all parish facilities, Youth Ministry space is outgrown, over-utilized, and in disrepair. The (former) convent is reserved for the weekly Youth Ministry meeting on Sunday evenings. During the remainder of the week the space is used by other parish groups. The implications run deep, our youth have no place to call home. They cannot decorate their space, display their work, or shape their environment in such a way that would be comfortable to them. Prior to each meeting, the room in the convent has to be re-set to become teenager friendly.
The need is obvious. Youth Ministry needs dedicated space that can accommodate growing numbers. I think it’s realistic that given the size of the parish, a full-time Youth Minister on the horizon and the development of a comprehensive program that includes junior high and young adults, it’s realistic to forecast facility needs for 75-100 participants.
PROGRAM CHARACTERISTICS - In spite of all the turbulence, transition and turnover, Youth Ministry continues to grow. There may be two reasons for this dynamic: 1) the demographic increase in the number of high school students, and 2) a defining characteristic of this generation is to join, gather, and be a part of organized activities. These are the children of "soccer moms."
AN ADMINISTRATOR’S OVERVIEW OF THE PREFERRED FUTURE DIRECTION Junior high students will soon begin to clamor for their needs to be served and those who are leaving the high school program have come to rely on the parish to fulfill their spiritual and social needs. It’s important that we begin to develop staff and implement a comprehensive Youth Ministry program. A full-time position is a good beginning, but only a beginning. We need vision and leadership (and time) to chart a course that considers the needs of a growing and diverse parish.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH/CHANGE - The opportunities for growth are clear. The population exists to build a dynamic and vital ministry. What’s needed is permanent staffing and dedicated volunteers who can direct their skills and talents to enhance programming opportunities.
THREATS TO PROGRAM GROWTH - Burnout! A very small group of young people and a few dedicated parents are carrying the OLA. In addition, full-time school schedules, work schedules, and limited time and expertise, those currently sustaining Youth Ministry are suffering from "chronic fatigue." We need a tonic that revitalizes the program and rejuvenates the players.
- One full-time director to plan and implement a comprehensive model and lead high school ministry
- two part-time staff, one with an expertise working with junior high youth and another working with college-age young adults
· Facility -Dedicated space for Youth Ministry. The convent might work well with some remodeling of the downstairs area, and of course, new carpet, window coverings, and paint.
· Support Ministries - Integrate Youth Ministry into all aspects of parish life, including: youth-centered liturgical celebrations, music ministry, religious education, confirmation classes, Vietnamese youth, Spanish-speaking youth, etc.
The Poor, Marginalized, and Alienated
Inherent in the tradition of our faith, is the commitment to provide assistance to the poor, marginalized, and alienated. To this end, OLA has several established methods of addressing the needs of the poor. The organized channels for collecting, distributing, and/or generating resources include: St. Vincent de Paul, Walk for the Hungry, Pomona Inland Valley Council of Churches, Brother Miguel Center, Catholic Charities, and Together in Mission. All are institutionalized means of fulfilling our responsibilities as Christians.
When the office receives a request for assistance, a member of the office staff conducts an interview to determine the "need(s)." The individual(s) is then asked to return at 3:00 p.m. The staff communicates with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the "on call" contact follows through. In the case of an immediate need, when a crisis situation occurs, individuals are directed to the Pomona Inland Valley Council of Churches or the Brother Miguel Center during their hours of operation.
Within the parish there exists a variety of individuals and organizations that serve to address a multitude of needs. Ministry to the Poor, Marginalized, and Alienated is not centralized under any one single department, office, or individual, but rather integrated into the various ministries and through individual efforts. Parishioners assume responsibility by initiating such activities as Walk for the Hungry, Alternative Gift Market, Adopt a Family, the Thanksgiving Food Drive, and a variety of food collections throughout the year.
As there is no centralized ministry, there is no centralized budget. Rather, the parish provides "seed money" for individual projects. The parish is then reimbursed from the proceeds.
FUTURE PERSPECTIVE AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A broader base of support would greatly enhance and secure the future success of existing programs and developing new ones. Fostering parish involvement and expanding the number of individuals and families would allow greater integration and collaboration of like efforts among other parish community organizations.
Among the threats to the current program as it exists is the danger that those individuals who are so committed to this ministry will "burn out" before replacing themselves. For this reason, the parish may want to consider an organized method of broadening the base of individual and group involvement and/or providing staff support.
· Food Collection Trailer is in need of replacement. During the last Thanksgiving Food Drive the trailer was rented at a very high price and was in disrepair.
· Office space -- since it is not a centralized ministry, there is no perceived need for office space.
Prior to the founding of Our Lady of the Assumption parish in 1947, the Catholics of the Claremont area were served by Sacred Heart Chapel, located at the corner of Claremont Blvd. and First Street. It served a largely Mexican immigrant population who worked in the citrus orchards. There is still an area of Claremont referred to as "the Barrio" where some descendants of these families still live, and remain active in the parish.
Until World War II, the dominant non-Hispanic population of the area was Protestant, mostly Congregationalists. A larger white middle-class Catholic population grew as wartime and postwar industry developed. Prior to Vatican II there is little evidence of much significant ecumenical or community involvement on the part of the parish.
Monsignor William J. Barry became pastor in 1961. During and following the Second Vatican Council, he was involved in many Archdiocesan leadership endeavors, including Catholic Charities, the establishment of the Priests’ Senate (later Council of Priests) and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (which became inactive in the ‘80's). He was active on the local ecumenical/ interfaith scene, and was instrumental in founding the Pomona Inland Valley Council of Churches and the Claremont Ecumenical Council, both in the ‘60's or ‘70's. He also served on a variety of local boards and commissions, such as the Pomona Valley Hospital Ethics Board.
Msgr. Barry was active in a variety of social justice issues. He welcomed the establishment of a Vietnamese Catholic Community in 1975, and brought the parish into the East Valleys Organization (EVO), a broad-based community organizing effort supported by the Archdiocese and led the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). However, the parish was somewhat isolated from most of the EVO activity, which took place in the western San Gabriel Valley, and this effort tended to be supported by (or even known by) a relatively small number of parishioners.
In the late ‘80's and early ‘90's, there was considerable division in the parish regarding social justice issues and the involvement of the Church in "politics."
Currently, the parish is represented on the Claremont Ecumenical Council by the Pastor, and actively supports the programs of the Pomona Inland Valley Council of Churches. Both the parish and the school are members of the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, and the pastor is a member of the Claremont Rotary, as was Msgr. Barry. These contacts are valuable simply to keep us in touch with the larger community. We maintain active relationships with a variety of civic groups and institutions, including the Claremont Colleges, the local retirement communities and health services. There are many civic issues surfacing in Claremont that it is important for the Church to be instrumental in addressing, for example, underlying attitudes and racial tensions that have surfaced as a result of the police shooting of Irvin Landrum, Jr., last year.
The parish is currently supporting and assisting a renewed organizing effort by IAF in the Pomona Valley. If it does succeed, which may be difficult in a community such as ours, it can be an important means of evangelization, bringing the Gospel to bear on the concrete life situation of the community as a whole. The positive benefits of this community organizing effort would extend beyond the parish into neighboring areas that have many social and economic problems. However, since many parishioners, both from Claremont and beyond, are affluent it is often difficult for them to see the connection between their life of faith and social action to benefit those who have little real voice or influence for improvement.
Social and demographic conditions, as well as our fulfillment of the Church’s mission, will require increased involvement in the civic and political life of both the Claremont community and the Pomona Valley. I believe there needs to be a more coordinated effort among all parish groups and ministries to understand that connectedness with the larger community is integral to all aspects of our parish mission. At present, I think our response to community concerns is somewhat haphazard—those issues that happen to be someone’s focus tend to get acted on, others simply don’t get attention. There are many things vying for our attention, including mail and phone solicitations from a variety of causes, local and beyond. Many of these land simply on the pastors desk to decide and deal with. I would like to see some kind of committee to receive input, discuss and evaluate in light of the parish mission, and recommend action.
Education is going to play a big role in how we respond as Catholics to the concerns of the broader community. Adult education used to be a greater priority than it is now. However, much of the past emphasis, in my opinion, neglected the "basics" in favor of the "cutting edge" of progressive theology. That meant a great many people were left untouched and uninvolved. While a renewed emphasis on the basics of Catholic teaching is vital, adult education must also go beyond that and explore the dimensions of Catholic involvement in the world around us.
Leadership, Direction, and Decision Making
Our Lady of the Assumption Parish has a strong history of affirming lay leadership. Monsignor Barry, who became pastor during the time of preparation for the Second Vatican Council, was well prepared to involve the laity to the fullest extent the Church policy and mentality allowed. He had been both a campus minister and director of Catholic Charities, and continuously involved in conciliar and lay leadership endeavors in the Archdiocese. In the 1970's he established at OLA what was probably the first parish council in the Archdiocese, as well as a finance council and a school board. He was nearly always among the first to try a new program for renewal or development.
This created a certain dynamism to parish life. OLA often had the reputation of being on the "cutting edge." However, it also brought about a certain instability, even cynicism, with people getting deeply involved in one thing only to be asked to devote their energies to another important project. In the early 1990’s, the parish council dissolved itself, the finance council met twice a year to review the budget and offer advice, and the school board’s functions were mostly collection of delinquent tuition and minor fund-raising activities.
In the early 1990’s a major effort was launched to divide the parish into small communities, on a geographical basis, with not only the parish but surrounding areas as far distant as Rancho Cucamonga and Diamond Bar being divided into apostolic regions and apostolic neighborhoods. These groupings never really took off, except for a very few, and one or two "neighborhoods" still meet regularly. The idea seemed to be a combination of basic faith-sharing communities and parish-wide communications and ministry network. They were very heavily dependent on the regular presence of a priest, and many leaders were frustrated that they could get people to come only when they had a home Mass. When I came in 1994, I did not feel that the structure as set up was viable, and the lay leadership did not seem interested in seriously redesigning it, so the few groups that met continued to meet on their own.
The Finance Council has been restructured, meets monthly, and functions well as an advisory body to monitor the budget and overall financial health of the parish. The school board was reconstituted in 1995, but continues to struggle to define its role and function through the changes of administration. We do not yet have a parish pastoral council. Since the previous parish council dissolved itself feeling frustrated that they were not being taken seriously by the previous pastor, and given the difficulties that are encountered in other parishes between pastors and councils, I have not wanted to simply start one hastily.
Currently, while there are many outstanding leaders in the parish, and the potential for a great many more, I think there is lacking a coordinated effort to identify, train and empower them.
While I try very hard to exercise appropriate consultation in making decisions, I feel the need for a broader perspective and some form of well-facilitated communal discernment in charting the directions that even the ordinary everyday decision-making will take the parish. I believe that a well-planned parish council, that can function well with me and the other priests and parish ministries and organizations, should be a priority in the near future.
Training, coordination, and empowerment of parish lay leaders, in collaboration with neighboring parishes and other church structures, is a need that can only grow greater.
There needs also to be more redefining and refining the role of the ordained clergy in relation to lay leadership, administration, and ministry. I believe that, as the priests become ever fewer, our role must focus on that of ecclesial sacramental presider and spiritual leader. I believe that an increased emphasis on spiritual direction will necessarily be part of this renewed focus.
Ministry to the Sick, Dying & Grieving
The Ministry to the Sick, Dying & Grieving (SDG) at Our Lady of the Assumption parish is an umbrella ministry formed in 1995 in order to provide an integrated and holistic approach to addressing the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of the members of our parish community and their families who are facing the challenge of a serious or terminal illness or who have lot a family member through death. The major outreach groups currently functioning within the SDG Ministry are:
· Eucharistic Ministers to the Sick -- continuously active since 1973
· Bereavement Ministers -- active in the late 1980's and revitalized in 1996.
· OLA Visitors - started in late 1999.
Eucharistic Ministers to the Sick - Fifty-five Eucharistic Ministers to the Sick currently serve on a regular or substitute basis at seven local nursing homes and care facilities and in approximately 30 private homes of parishioners. Most of those served are elderly, with many having serious physical or mental limitations. The ministers are organized into five teams, with a leader responsible for coordination and scheduling for each team. The Eucharistic Ministers to the Sick are discussed in greater detail in the Liturgical Ministries section of the parish assessment narrative.
Bereavement Ministers - Six Bereavement Ministers serving on a rotating basis are currently trained and available to respond to the approximately 90 funeral calls received at OLA annually. A minister contacts the family as soon as possible to provide support and to offer the condolences of the OLA Community to the family of the deceased. The minister then works with family members to plan the funeral service, acts as a liaison with the priest, and if possible, attends the funeral and assists where needed. In addition, the bereavement team and the Liturgy Committee collaborate on the annual Memorial Mass on All Souls Day at which we commend to the Lord by name each parishioner or family member of a parishioner who has died during the past year.
OLA Visitors - This recently-formed group has nine members who visit parishioners who live alone or those in nursing homes who do not have regular visitors. They are actively recruiting clients and currently serve those in six private homes and two care facilities. The ministers listen and provide companionship, as well as offer assistance with reading, writing letters, making phone calls, shopping, and doctor visits. They also provide referrals to other parish organization such as the Silver Saints and to community resources such as those available through the Joslyn Senior Center in Claremont.
The 1999-2000 budget for the combined Ministry to the Sick, Dying and Grieving is $1,575. Approximately 30% is allocated for support materials for those served, 35% for resource materials and training for the ministers, 25% for items such as OLA nametags, pyxes, and Eucharistic Minister medallions, and the balance for postage and miscellaneous supplies.
The ministry requires suitable conference room space for meetings and training programs as well as storage space for materials and supplies. We also require administrative support from the OLA office staff for providing updated lists for parishioners needing assistance, occasional mailings, and eventually for maintaining an ongoing database of those served.
Since the single most important quality of those who serve as ministers to the sick, dying, grieving is the ability to listen with compassion and sensitivity, the ministers must be provided with ongoing training opportunities to develop their listening skills. Since this ministry is staffed entirely by volunteers, there is also a continual need to attract new ministers and leaders and to support and encourage them in their efforts.
An integrated program for supporting the sick, dying, and grieving members of the OLA Community is a sound and appropriate pastoral approach to ministering to these highly vulnerable and suffering members of the parish family. This umbrella program should be continued and the ties and coordination between the various sub-groups should be cultivated and strengthened.
The recently formed OLA Visitors group provides an excellent opportunity to establish stronger relationships with service organizations such as the Silver Saints and to access the support services available in the local community.
The major threat to the continued viability of this ministry is the continuing need to attract new ministers and leaders, particularly as the number of older parishioners needing support increases.
· Coordinate the recruiting of volunteers for the various facets of this ministry.
· Establish regular training programs.
· Provide the ministers with opportunities for spiritual growth and development.
· Develop an ongoing bereavement support structure for those who have recently experienced the loss of a loved one.
HISTORICAL & CURRENT PERSPECTIVES
Pastoral counseling has always been available from the priests of the parish, but OLA also has on staff an experienced pastoral counselor, Vivian Thomas, Ph.D., who provides professional counseling, including psychotherapy and crisis intervention, for parishioners. Dr. Thomas is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Pastoral Counselor who is available for pre-marital, marital, and family counseling, and for assistance in dealing with issues such as domestic violence, child abuse, chemical dependency, gangs, homelessness, poverty, and disabilities. She works closely with the priests of the parish, providing referral for sacramental support when appropriate.
Dr. Thomas serves 60-70 families per year from OLA, Catholic Charities at Brother Miguel Center in Pomona, and from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and other area parishes. Most are seen for two or more sessions, and hours are flexible based on the client’s availability and work or transportation situations. Home and hospital visits are also made when necessary. Dr. Thomas interfaces with the Marriage Tribunal and other archdiocesan offices, probation and court representatives, other Catholic counselors and social workers in the area, referring pastors from other parishes, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society and other aid agencies.
Those counseled are seen within the theological context of prayer. There are encouraged to participate in the mission of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Claremont, California, where this is possible in accordance with their Baptismal responsibilities. An example of this would be the work of Friends of Criox des Bouquets, Haiti, and the development of the OLA Visitors. Dr. Thomas participated in the development of the Bereavement Ministers, as a part of the training team, which set up the training for these volunteers. Ministries of Christian service and parish social ministries are developed out of felt need as expressed by those who come for counseling, such as the families who abuse their spouses or children. Those who are divorced and separated, and who come for counseling are seen individually. Should the need arise, group therapy is a possibility, which has been discussed with Sister Claire Kehl. Referral of families by the Parish School is also accepted at the request of the Principal, Ms. Lujan.
Over 40 hours per week are spent in the above ministries. The Pastoral Counselor is available on 24-hour call under the supervision of the Pastor, for the parish family emergency situations.
The Pastoral Counselor is a paid OLA staff member, with some support provided by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. Those clients able to pay are charged $20-25/hour, but services are provided free of charge when necessary. Fees collected are used to provide emergency financial assistance to homeless and needy clients.
The key facility requirement for the Pastoral Counselor is an office that provides both privacy and security and is large enough to accommodate family groups. The present office located in the Junction is too small and isolated and has limited privacy when other groups are meeting in the Junction. A high priority should be placed on locating a more suitable office space for Dr. Thomas. She also requires secretarial support, needs a working PC, and would greatly benefit from some PC training.
If we wish to maintain a strong pastoral counseling program we need to expand our collaboration with other Catholic counselors and social workers in the area and to begin developing additional resources at OLA. Establishing an internship or monitoring relationship with students from the pastoral counseling program at the School of Theology would be an opportunity to develop future staff members and provide continuity and stability to our program. This could even result in OLA offering some scholarship assistance to a particularly promising individual.
· Relocate the Pastoral Counselor’s office to a more suitable place.
· Explore establishing an internship or monitoring program for pastoral counseling students.
Service & Advocacy
HISTORICAL & CURRENT PERSPECTIVES
Our Lady of the Assumption Parish supports a wide variety of organizations and activities that provide material assistance, advocacy, and support services to parishioners, area residents, and people throughout the world. These efforts are profiled below.
St. Vincent de Paul Society
(This is a very extensive program. See separate narrative.)
The Silver Saints is a group of six volunteers with handyman skills who will make minor household repairs for parishioners or provide recommendations and referrals for larger jobs. Their primary clients are the elderly and disabled who cannot keep up with household maintenance tasks but who lack the funds or confidence to call a repair service. The Silver Saints meet monthly and respond to an average of 2-3 calls per month — a number which they are eager to see increase.
The Sew’N’Sews are members of the OLA Women’s Council who use donated yarn to crochet or knit squares that are assembled into afghans for adults and babies. The afghans are distributed to the homeless through the parish and through Catholic Charities at the Brother Miguel Center in Pomona.
Friends of Croix des Bouquets, Haiti
This is a group of Haitian and non-Haitian parishioners that raises money to support educational and reforestation development projects in Haiti. Their major fund raising event is the annual Caribbean Jamboree, an evening that offers the parish an opportunity to enjoy the food, music, and culture of Haiti.
OLA has a monthly food collection and the items received are taken directly to the Pomona-Inland Valley Council of Churches Beta Center for distribution to the needy and homeless of the area. The Thanksgiving food collection takes place during the entire month of November and is supported by the school and Religious Education programs as well as by the parish at large. Food collected at this time goes to both the Catholic Charities Brother Miguel Center and the Council of Churches Beta Center.
At Christmas, the parish has an Adopt-a-Family program to provide food and Christmas gifts for needy families in the parish and those referred by Catholic Charities. In 1999, approximately 100 families were either directly adopted or received baskets assembled using donations from individuals, many parish organizations, and the OLA school children.
Alternative Christmas Gift Market
The annual Alternative Christmas Gift Market provides an opportunity for parishioners to remember friends and relatives by giving "a gift of help" in their names. Food and supplies as well as development gifts such as building materials and livestock are purchased and given to the poor and needy in our local community and throughout the world.
The Pomona Valley Organization (PVO) seeks to train leaders in the community to organize our citizens around issues that will increase their participation in seeking solutions to various problems and thus enhance the well-being of our community. Pax Christi / Pomona Valley strives to create a world that reflects the peace of Christ by exploring, articulating, and witnessing to the call of Christian nonviolence. Respect Life seeks to educate the community on the sanctity of life in all of its stages and also assists women in problem pregnancies. The Catholic AIDS Network provides support for those living with HIV/AIDS and for their families and caregivers.
OLA also annually hosts the Third World Handarts and His Nesting Place. Third World Handarts is a nonprofit organization that supports the self-employment opportunities of third-world artisans by marketing their crafts, thus providing them and their families with the means of survival. His Nesting Place is a home providing loving support for single and expectant mothers and their babies.
The diversity of these efforts demonstrates a deep and creative commitment within the OLA Community to the mandate of Christian Service. Having a Parish Volunteer Coordinator would be very helpful for increasing the number of volunteers and improving communication between the various projects and groups.
St. Vincent de Paul Society
The St. Vincent de Paul Society was founded by Blessed Frederic Ozanam and a group of his fellow students at the University of Paries in 1833. Today, it is a worldwide organization of lay Catholic men and women who are committed to live and grow in their Christian faith through prayer and personal involvement in charitable works. For over 40 years, the OLA Conference has carried out its mission of day-to-day service to the needy of our area.
As far as we know, a history of our Conference has not been written, but minutes of the meetings going back to October 1, 1959, are available. The Conference is chartered by the Los Angeles Council, and is one of 23 Conferences in the San Gabriel District. Nearby Conferences include Holy Name of Mary in San Dimas and St. Joseph’s in Pomona. Two of the present members are past presidents: Fred Jenal who served for 21 years and George Clark who served for five.
Staffing - There are 16 members including the Pastor. Several of the members are retired or semi-retired and are available for the more time-consuming tasks of the Conference. As a minimum, members are expected to help take up the monthly collection at the doors of the Church and to attend the monthly meeting.
There is a President, a Vice-President, a Treasurer, and a Secretary. The Pastor is the nominal Spiritual Advisor. From one meeting to the next, certain members take turns for one month at a time serving as Duty Officer, to meet with people to be served. Another member is responsible for the collection of donated clothing, household items, etc. Another member is a social worker on the parish staff and takes referrals of more complicated cases.
The Conference is assisted by the Church office staff members, who take calls from people contacting the Church for help. The staff secures essential information from the callers and makes appointments for them to meet the Duty Officer.
People Served - Among people to be served, our first priority is needy members of the parish. The second priority is needy members of the Claremont community. From there, the circle widens (to the extent our resources permit) to include needy people from nearby communities, including Pomona and Montclair. Homeless people and transients are also assisted when they come to us.
Financial Implications - A monthly collection is taken up at the doors of the church after all Masses on the weekend that includes the third Sunday. An announcement is placed in the Parish Bulletin the weekend before, and again on the weekend of the collection. It is also mentioned in the announcements at the end of the Masses. The typical collection is in the range of $1,300. The Conference aims to disburse this amount, on average, each month. Ordinarily, the amount needed for parishioners and Claremonters is less, and the excess is distributed to needy people from nearby areas who contact the parish. Once the available resources have been disbursed, we refer people from outside the parish and beyond Claremont to other agencies in the area that may be able to help them.
Facility Implications and Needs - The St. Vincent de Paul Conference does not have its own office, but there is usually an office available for meeting with the people who come to us for help. We hold our monthly meeting in the parish library, which is adequate. We have a good storage room to hold donated clothing and household items until they can be picked up by the St. Vincent de Paul truck to be taken to the Thrift Store in Los Angeles.
Program Characteristics - At the present time, we see about 25-30 cases in a month. Frequently, these are single-parent families (typically a mother with three or four children). Most often, they come to us for food or help with utility bills. For food, we give some combination of referral to Catholic Charities’ Brother Miguel Center in Pomona and/or scrip for Ralph’s/ Food-4-Less. We reimburse Catholic Charities for the referrals we make to Brother Miguel Center; we purchase the scrip from OLA School. We help pay utility bills for electric, gas, or water -- especially if the bill has a shut-off notice. We provide emergency shelter (one or two nights) at the Pomona Inn Motel, and make referrals to agencies that can give longer-term assistance with shelter. Our funds are not sufficient to give much help with housing payments, but we will partner with others for a temporary fix. If it is a parishioner, we may ask the parish to help. The LA Council of St. Vincent de Paul has a housing assistance program to help a family over a rough spot if there is ‘a light at the end of the tunnel.’ We are not a welfare agency and do not have the resources to help the same family or person on a continuing basis. We are sometimes called on to help meet transportation or medical needs. We draw on the LA Council and the Thrift Store to meet occasional requests we receive for household items and clothing.
An Administrator’s Overview - With its long history at OLA, our Conference has the benefit of having determined, by experience, what works and what does not work for us. The present mode of operation, which is pretty clearly defined, is working. Nevertheless, a strategic planning assessment is an occasion to think outside one’s present box.
While OLA and Claremont have above-average incomes and resources, this is not Lake Woebegone where everyone is above average. The opening prayer at our meetings asks that the members "be responsive to the Christian calling to see and find the forgotten, the suffering or the deprived." Our present practice is more reactive (responding to those who come to us) than proactive (to seek and find). Besides reminding the members of the parish that St. Vincent de Paul is taking up a collection to help the needy of the area, perhaps we should invite the parishioners to make referrals or let us know of people who need our help.
AN OVERVIEW FOR CONFERENCES, a publication from the Society, says: "Members strive to take part in spiritual development and formation based upon Scripture, prayer, reflection, discussion, and Sacramental experience." This theme is evident in activities at the District and Council levels, but unfortunately received only minor emphasis in our Conference.
The same publication says: "Essential to the Vicentian Mission is visiting the needy in their homes." For a variety of reasons, this is not the practice in our OLA Conference. Moving in the direction of home visits should be done gradually, if at all, and would need to be accompanied by several concurrent developments within the Conference.
Opportunities for Growth/Change - The OLA Council and the San Gabriel District offer a variety of resources which could contribute to a more robust Conference at OLA. For a combination of reasons, our members tend not to participate in meetings, workshops, retreats, Communion breakfasts, etc., offered at the Society’s higher organizational levels. As new members are added, it will be important to have them participate in such events, so that they see the bigger picture, and can help bring that vision back to the local Conference.
Closer interaction between our OLA Conference and those at St. Joseph’s in Pomona and Holy Name of Mary in San Dimas would probably enhance the effectiveness of all three.
The Pomona Valley Council of Churches has a new umbrella program to help the homeless, called PASS (Pomona Access to Social Services). This offers an opportunity to extend our existing collaboration with Catholic Charities’ Brother Miguel Center and with PIVCC’s "Our House" shelter, to make referrals for homeless people who contact us.
The LA Council is considering opening a Thrift Store in the San Gabriel Valley. If they go forward with this, we could be a significant player, since we already provide large contributions of clothes and household items to the Council’s present Thrift Store operation.
Threats to Program Growth - Two threats are the aging of the present membership with decreasing vitality and time; and increasing competition from other Church groups for contributions.
· Add our or five new members who have the time and energy to do the work of the Conference. Encourage husband and wife teams to be active, which is common practice in other Conferences.
· Provide orientation and training for new members.
· Foster participation in SvdP District and Council activities.
· Send thank-you letters to larger donors.
Accounting & Bookkeeping: The parish and school have shared a bookkeeper since at least 1990. In 1995, the bookkeeper began using a personal computer with Quicken software to monitor parish and school finances. At that time a system of recording receipts and disbursements was used. Since 1995, we have converted to Quickbooks, a more professional accrual accounting system. Parish and school payroll has been contracted out to the professional payroll service, ADP, since 1994. Initially, we had only one account with ADP and the school account would reimburse the parish account for payroll each month. In 1997, the parish account was separated from the school and two accounts were opened with ADP so there would be more accurate payroll accounting. In addition, direct payroll deposit has been available to school and parish employees for several years. To keep up with the increasing complexity of the bookkeeping and accounting functions of the parish and school, a part-time accounts payable clerk was added.
Internal Financial Controls: Since 1995, numerous steps have been taken to increase internal financial controls both in the parish and school operation. Existing safes have been moved to more secure and appropriate locations. Two safes were added which have drop box deposit capability, one in the church vestibule candle room and one in the parish office. This provides better security by allowing staff to follow procedures that ensure that money is not left unattended in the office environment. Staff and parishioners alike are strongly encouraged to make use of check request forms and carbonized deposit forms that provide more accurate record keeping. All check requests require supporting documentation (i.e. invoice, bill, receipt). The business manager reconciles the parish and school bank accounts and prepares deposits other than regular Sunday offertory. The accounts payable clerk prepares the checks. The director of administration reviews and signs the checks. Only the pastor and the director of administration have check signing authority.
Sunday Offertory Counting: The Sunday offertory collections are counted each week by two teams of volunteer counters, the Sunday group and the Monday group. Cass Bonk recruits, coordinates, and provides leadership for the counters and arranges for additional counting assistance when it is needed for special collections such as the Archdiocesan annual appeal Together in Mission. The counters are carefully selected in consultation with the pastor and assigned to teams that rotate each Sunday.
Information Systems for Contribution Records: The business manager maintains close contact with the head counter as well as with the parish office manager who is responsible for recording the individual parishioner contributions. Prior to 1995, the recording and tracking of individual parishioner contributions was done with the Guardian Company software program. When annual contribution acknowledgments were mailed there was a general perception by many parishioners that the parish did not keep accurate records of their individual contributions. In 1997, we converted to a new PC network using the Archdiocesan-recommended software known as the Parish Computer System (PCS) by the Omnidata/Cirvis Company. Through a number of different steps, including the change in software, the accuracy of individual contribution records has improved significantly. Approximately 1500 annual contribution statements were mailed to parishioners January 2000. Since then we have received approximately 40 (2.6%) requests for corrections.
Operating Budget: An annual budget preparation process was implemented in fiscal year 1996-97 and has been followed each year. The budget process solicits input from parish ministry and organization leaders as well as from parish staff and the school principal. We have been hampered in the past by the cash basis format of the annual report to the Archdiocese as well as by the limitation of the Archdiocesan chart of accounts. We have added numerous sub-accounts in order to achieve a more accurate and detailed picture of our financial operation and we are hopeful that the changes in the past year at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center Accounting Department will help to move in that direction.
Since FY 1995-96, the parish has operated with deficit budgets. We have happily been experiencing an upward trend in offertory income that has allowed us to operate without having to draw significantly on parish reserves in the Archdiocesan investment pool. In addition, the parish has not had a history of budgeting for future needs, such as vehicles for the priests or other capital improvement needs. These future expenses must be included in the future budgetary processes.
Offertory Increase Efforts: In the last five years, the parish has engaged in annual offertory increase programs. Until the fall of 1999 these programs were conducted largely by direct mail. In the fall of 1999 the parish contracted with Bill Bannon of Bannon Associates to assist in an in-pew process offertory program very similar to the in-pew process that Bannon had prescribed for the Archdiocesan Annual Appeal in January 1999. As a result of the Bannon program, the number of families who made a commitment of giving increased from 811 in 1998 to 1,018 in 1999, an increase of 20%. In addition, the intentional commitments of giving received in the fall of 1999 totaled $19,235 per week, an increase of 29% over the actual weekly offertory in fiscal year 1998-99. As of January 30, 2000 the parish is experiencing approximately a 16% increase in envelope and loose plate income over last year to date.
Purchase of Property: Fr. Welbers has consulted with the Finance Council prior to making major financial decisions regarding the purchase of residential property contiguous to the parish grounds. In 1997 the parish purchased the house at 492 Grinnell Street and in 1999 the parish purchased the two houses at 485 Stanford and 444 Berkeley Avenue, which are all currently occupied by priests from OLA.
Parish Finance Council: As prescribed by Cannon Law, OLA has had a Parish Finance Council in place for many years. Since 1995, under the leadership of Fr. Tom Welbers, the Finance Council has met at least 10 times a year. The Finance Council operates under the recommended by-laws of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. The pastor appoints the members for staggered three-year terms. There are currently six members of the council, not including the pastor and three ex-officio members, the director of administration, parish business manager and the school principal. The Council reviews monthly income and expense reports and consults with the pastor on financial matters concerning both the parish and the school. As identified by Burke & Associates, the role of the Finance Council could benefit from outside training. Both parish staff and the Finance Council members welcome this prospect.
Facilities Issues: As has been covered thoroughly in the parish limited institutional assessment by Burke & Associates, there is an enormous amount of deferred maintenance required on parish and school facilities, and this need appears to be recognized by many of the parishioners. In addition, parishioners and staff experience constant frustration and inconvenience because of the inadequacy of the current facilities. We currently have insufficient meeting space and the space that we do have is not adequate. Decisions must be made about the future of the current facilities that will have significant effect on the financial future of the parish and school. The parish current has approximately $300,000 in reserves.
OLA School Issues: Issues regarding the school include the need to raise standards and improve its reputation in the aftermath of several tumultuous years of changes in administration. Serious consideration must be given to the challenges facing the school in the area of teacher recruitment and retention and how to provide an excellent educational experience that is affordable for parish families.
Parish Staffing: Recommendations for additional parish staff, such as the proposal to add a full-time coordinator of volunteers, will have financial implications for the parish.
The challenge faced is to be able to build and improve upon the offertory income program so the annual operating budget can sustain the vibrant faith community of parishioners who have many needs and enormous capacity for living out their faith.
The Role of the Parish Office
Parish Office Staffing: Prior to 1997 the parish office was open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The level of parish activity has gradually increased and for several years now there have been over 70 organizations and ministries that meet regularly at the parish. There was only one receptionist on duty at a time in the parish office after 5 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as all day Saturday and Sunday. It became apparent that during the evening hours and on Sunday morning, the level of activity and need for service to the priests and parishioners was not being met with only one receptionist at these particular times. Since 1997, we have two receptionists working from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Sunday mornings. We are no longer open Friday, Saturday, or Sunday evenings after 6 p.m. We have worked hard to foster, encourage and expect a strong attitude of service in our administrative staff, including the custodial, maintenance, clerical, managerial staff. The receptionist is usually the first impression given to a person who approaches the parish office. Often people come to discuss matters that are very personal and sensitive to them. Some are filled with a range of emotions including anxiety, anger, shame, and grief. Many are ignorant of Catholic practice. We interact with people of every race and economic background.
The office staff are required to provide information about a wide range of topics related to the Church as well as community resources. Our goal is to be helpful and to put people at ease as much as possible. In addition, the parish office staff provide service to the many parish ministry and organization leaders. Serving the parish leaders who are involved in ministry takes up a large percentage of the office staff time. We consider this portion of the job one of the most important because it provides support to the many ministries that serve the people of our parish in so many meaningful ways. Seven of the nine clerical staff are bi-lingual. This is the result of a conscious attempt to serve our Spanish- and Vietnamese-speaking parishioners. There are times when this bi-lingual ability causes our clerical tasks to fall behind so that language interpreting can be done.
The clerical staff are supervised directly by the parish office manager. There are three full-time secretaries and five part-time receptionists. Under the direction of the parish office manager, these staff members are responsible for all of the clerical functions of the parish. This includes maintaining sacramental records; arranging appointments for priests; arranging for baptisms, weddings, and funerals; scheduling facilities use; maintaining individual contribution records; and preparing mailings. In addition, the clerical staff works with volunteers who faithfully assist with the office tasks. Staff time is taken up in training and assisting volunteers in such areas as bulletin preparation and maintaining the parish census database, both of which are time consuming and important functions.
Sacramental Records for 1999:
· 203 Infant Baptisms
· 1 Adult baptized
· 3 Receptions into full communion
· 313 First Communicants
· 125 Confirmations
· 28 Marriages (both spouses are Catholic)
· 9 Marriages (only one spouse is Catholic)
· 81 Funerals or memorial services
Communications: There are two main forms of communication with parishioners here at OLA:
· A full-time staff member prepared the weekly bulletin until 1996. Since then, a dedicated parishioner has come in two days each week to prepare the bulletin. In 1997 the pastor began including a weekly letter to parishioners in the bulletin.
· Each month all parishioners receive a letter from the pastor. This letter accompanies the contribution envelopes and coupons that are mailed from a professional mailing company. Some parishioners opt to receive the letter only if they prefer to make their offertory contribution annually and choose not to receive the coupon sheet or the return envelopes.
· In addition to the two sources of communication mentioned above, parishioners receive a letter from the pastor along with the Lenten/Easter schedule and the Advent/Christmas schedule. These mailings always include some form of worship aid in addition to the schedule.
Technology: In 1999, the parish expanded its network of personal computers to the school office via fiber optic cable. As a result, there are now 17 PCS on the network. All work stations have access to the Omnidata/Cirvis Company Parish Computer System (PCS). The parish census and contribution entries are tracked using the PCS software program as well as facilities scheduling. In addition, as of the fall of 1999, the school is using the parish census database to track tuition and fee payments. This software has greater capabilities than we are currently using. More training is needed to maximize its potential. We are considering coordinating with several nearby parishes to contract with Omnidata Co. to share the cost of a computer specialist to assist us in software use and training. This expense may be included in the 2000-2001 budget proposal.
In 1999 the parish contracted with a local company for computer hardware support and maintenance. In an operation such as the parish and school, we need to have accessible, reliable expertise for these services. As we have added telephone lines for electronic data transmission, our telephone expenses have steadily increased. We are waiting for DSL lines to be available through our telephone company so that we can have less expensive Internet access.
We hope to begin electronically scanning our sacramental records onto CDS so that they can be stored without risk of fire damage.
Building and Grounds
The OLA Parish campus consists of a church and school (daycare through grade eight) and support buildings for a total of ten structures located on a backwards-L shaped lot of approximately five acres, bordered on the south by Bonita Ave., on the east by Berkeley Ave., on the north by Harrison Ave. and on the west by the Claremont Manor retirement community. Additionally, there are three houses across Berkeley Ave. from the campus used as housing for the priests. The campus structures are generally located along the north, east and south perimeters and surround a multipurpose athletic field and a parking lot. There are three vehicle entrances to the property on the north, east, and south sides.
The buildings of the main campus consist of the church, the Bonita Ave. school building, the Berkeley Ave. school building, the kindergarten/teachers lounge, the auditorium, the library, the old rectory, the old convent, the "junction", and two joined storage sheds.
The parish had its beginnings in the citrus–picking barrio located in east Claremont during the 1920’s. Initially, visiting priests from neighboring parishes served the Spanish-speaking community by celebrating Masses in private homes. In 1934, construction began on Sacred Heart Church and hall. These small structures were dedicated January 15, 1939 and were designated a mission church. As the population of Claremont boomed after the Second World War the need for a larger facility to serve a growing multi-ethnic community was realized. On May 13, 1947, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles created a separate parish for Claremont whose Catholic population was now one-third Anglo. In the summer of 1948, a citrus grove at Berkeley and Bonita Avenues was acquired as a site. In January 1951, construction of a new church began and the first Masses were held in it on October 28 of that year. Cardinal McIntyre formally blessed the completed church on January 2, 1952 under heavy rains that drenched all present.
The church is a 6,325 square foot brick structure of no discernible architectural style but exhibiting modernist (no florid decoration), Prairie style (arched tympanum) and California/Spanish (clay tile roof) influences. Other churches in the archdiocese are known to be built from the same set of plans (sometimes flip-flopped) but of other materials. A prominent architectural feature is the five-story tower on the northeast corner of the structure. The church has a seating capacity of 700 worshipers – 560 on the main floor, 20 in the crying room (vestibule), 60 in the balcony, and 60 on the altar.
The church is decorated with art from prominent local artists. The late Robert George (a parishioner) painted tiles over the entrance as well as a triptych panel in the candle room. Carved wooden grilles decorating the forewall of the balcony are by Albert Stewart. The altar set in rosewood and polished stainless steel altar, ambo, baptismal font, tabernacle, tabernacle candle holder/light, altar candle holders, Paschal candle holder and wall plaque were designed and built by Jerry Mahoney in the mid-1980’s. The Stations of the Cross are Italian glass mosaics. There are 14 stained glass windows. A Belgian tapestry of Our Lady of the Assumption graces a wall of the north transept and a reproduction of Our Lady of Guadalupe adorns the south transept.
The organ is a Rogers 38 rank/3 manual, electronic installed in 1988. The piano is a Yamaha purchased in 1990. The carillon is a Schulmerich installed in 1963. The sound system is programmable/automatic with four Bose speakers and one bass emitter in the sanctuary, JBL speakers in the vestibule and Beyerdynamic wireless microphones for the presiders and Shure choir microphones for the choir. The entire sound system was installed in July 1997.
The baptismal font in current use is a fiberglass combination immersion tank and font installed in 1996.
Seismic retrofitting of the two steel I-beams which span the east-west axis of the north and south arms of the transept was completed in June 1998. The beams were bolted/epoxy anchored to the reinforced brick walls and additional reinforcing was added to the masonry corners. Cracks in the bricks were also epoxied before the walls were closed and repainted.
Four programmable thermostats were installed in 1998 to maximize heating and cooling efficiency.
In anticipation of the shortage of priests, it will no longer be realistic to schedule 10 masses per weekend in the coming years. With average weekend mass attendance of approximately 5,000, the capacity of the church will no longer be adequate to fully serve the parish.
The restrooms in the church are small and not in proximity to one another. They do not meet current ADA requirements.
The electrical provisions in the church are also inadequate – the church being built in a less electrically dependent era. There are not enough electrical outlets throughout the structure by modern standards, and they are not grounded by a third wire. Total amperage available to the building is not enough to support high-wattage stage lighting as is sometimes required for plays and pageants.
Water supply line and pressure regulator are buried under the concrete patio and the exact location has proved difficult to identify.
Storage of all sorts throughout the church is inadequate.
There is no asbestos in the church structure.
BONITA SCHOOL BUILDING (611 W. Bonita Ave.)
The Bonita Ave. school building was the first school structure built at OLA. It was completed in 1955. It consists of eight classrooms – four on each side of a central hallway – as well as storage and supply rooms, photocopy room, nurse’s office, student and faculty restrooms, janitorial closet, and school administrative offices. When the school was new all eight grades had classes in this building.
Each classroom has its own HVAC system, which was installed in 1994.
A new shingle roof was installed over the administrative areas in 1998.
The covered breeze way that runs along the north side of the building is suffering from both wet and dry rot due to many leaks in the breeze way roof.
There is non-friable asbestos-containing tile on all classroom floors under the current carpeting.
BERKELEY SCHOOL BUILDING (435 Berkeley Ave.)
The Berkeley Ave. school building consists of seven classrooms arranged along a central hallway. Two of the classrooms have been converted into parish administrative offices and a multipurpose workroom. There are also restrooms, a janitorial closet and a telephone system/storage closet. The building was completed in 1962. Asbestos is contained in all classroom floors.
In 1994, the Msgr. William Barry Parish Education Center was constructed. This added two more classrooms, a computer learning center, a Religious Education Center, an office for the Director of Religious Education, the Sapienza meeting room(s), the Reflection Room (used for meetings, children’s Sunday liturgy, and Eucharistic Adoration) and additional storage cabinets in the hallway. This addition also connected the existing Berkeley school building to the auditorium – the two structures had been separate before. The Reflection Room is adorned with an etched glass window depicting Our Mother of Hope -- a pro-life statement donated by the Foothill Council of the Knights of Columbus and dedicated by Cardinal Roger Mahony in 1999.
There is non-friable asbestos-containing tile on all classroom floors under the current carpeting.
The approximately 4000 square foot auditorium was constructed in 1962 and was the third school structure on campus. It was renovated in 1998 with updated lighting and a new paint scheme. It is equipped with a stage and kitchen and has a seating capacity of 194 for banquets and 388-theatre style. There are storage closets on either side of the stage used for rectangular and round tables, ladders, etc. There is a simple public address system with ceiling speakers and track lighting used as stage lighting. There are two restrooms and a janitorial closet, as well as a kitchen equipped with a Wolf range and "Snorkler" convection ovens, commercial refrigerator and freezer, warming cabinets and a heated serving table.
The auditorium is used for a variety of parish events as well as the daily school hot lunch program.
There is non-friable asbestos in the exterior stucco.
KINDERGARTEN/TEACHERS’ LOUNGE/OFFICES BUILDING
This building is a two-story frame and stucco structure with a Spanish tile roof housing the kindergarten classroom on the first floor and a teachers’ lounge/meeting room ("The Upper Room") and offices for the vice-principal and music teacher on the second floor. It was constructed in the late 1980’s. A fire escape staircase from the second floor on the north side is enclosed and is used as PE equipment storage. A pre-fabricated, unattached aluminum, fiberglass and glass shed is located on the west side and is also used to store PE equipment.
There is no asbestos in this building.
The "old rectory" was originally constructed in 1952 as a combination parish office and rectory but has been used solely as a priests’ residence since the 1970’s when the parish office was moved to the north two classrooms of the Berkeley school building. It consists of 21 rooms including six bathrooms, a kitchen, five bedrooms, a chapel, formal and informal dining rooms and a common room. It has been heavily modified/remodeled since its construction. There are washer/dryer hookups in an enclosure on the south side.
There is no asbestos in this building.
OLD CONVENT /DAYCARE (550 W. Harrison Ave.)
The old convent was originally constructed as a large two-story single family residence in 1909, in the American Foursquare style with arts-and-crafts period influences. After the death of the last private owner in 1965, the parish purchased the property and the home was used as a convent by the Felician Sisters until 1997[?] when the order consolidated housing in Pomona. It has been fairly heavily modified/remodeled. The structure is currently utilized as a daycare facility in approximately one-half of the first floor and as meeting and storage rooms throughout the rest of the building. There is a chapel on the first floor with a confessional. The building is no longer used as a residence.
There is non-friable asbestos around the furnace ducting in the basement at minimum.
The library was originally a carport for convent parking and was enclosed in the 1970’s. On the south side the building runs west and becomes a series of four enclosed storage sheds before turning south at the west property line to become two more storage sheds, the southernmost being only partially enclosed and used to collect newspaper for the recycling drive.
There is no asbestos in the library.
The "Junction" is the former youth house now used for RCIA and other parish ministries and meetings. The parish counselor also maintains an office there.
It is of frame and stucco construction, built in the 1970’s. Beside the counselor’s office, there is one large room and a bathroom. There is an attached carport with storage areas utilized by facilities, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Knights of Columbus.
There is no asbestos in this structure.
OFFSITE PRIESTS’ HOUSING (492 Grinnell, 485 Stanford, and 444 Berkeley)
Priests’ housing consists of three houses with one bedroom, one bathroom each: 492 Grinnell was purchased in 1997; 485 Stanford and 444 Berkeley in 1999 and are on one corner lot. The 485 Stanford house was thoroughly remodeled in late 1999 through early 2000 and is the pastor’s residence as well as common room for the other priests.
Parish Events & Facilities Usage
OLA has enjoyed a reputation for many years as a vibrant, spirit-filled parish where many things are happening and where there is room for a wide variety of ways to pursue Catholic spirituality and to live out our discipleship. The pastor fostered this atmosphere and as a result many different groups began to use OLA as a meeting headquarters. The need for space grew faster than the space available. Although the Sapienza Room (which holds up to 25) and two classrooms were added in 1994 and the convent (which holds up to 35) became available for meeting use in 1998, the need for space has not kept up with meeting rooms. The number of families in the parish has increased from approximately 3,600 in 1994 to 4,300 in 1999. The number and membership of the organizations and ministries have also grown. The result is that we are "victims of our own success" and have reached a point where we seem to be bursting at the seams.
For many years the parish staff scheduled facilities use for parish organizations and ministries using a large handwritten master calendar. As facilities use increased this method became increasingly ineffective. Basically, any parish staff member armed with a pencil and an eraser could wreak havoc with the master calendar. In 1996, the parish began using a computer software program to schedule facilities. In 1998, we switched to a software program that was compatible with our computer network. Now there are 17 PCS throughout the parish and school with viewing capabilities for the master facilities and events calendar. Only authorized personnel are capable of changing the calendar. This has resulted in greater control, but has not resolved the dilemma faced daily of trying to stuff ten pounds of sand into a five-pound bag.
For a number of years, the parish organization and ministry leaders were asked each spring to submit a written request for meeting space for the next year from August 1 through July 31. In 1997 and 1998, the parish staff and volunteer leaders were asked to attend a meeting to resolve any scheduling conflicts that existed. This worked well for resolving conflicts as well as for raising the consciousness of the ministry leaders as to how many requests there are for space as well as the need for negotiation among the various leaders. In 1999, the school began requiring all requests for space for school-related groups to go through the school office for approval. This has also been helpful in ensuring that the principal has authorized the requests for space.
For the period of August 1, 1999 through July 31, 2000, there are 5,522 events scheduled on the parish master calendar. This does not include the 1,352 regularly scheduled daily and weekend Masses or the regularly scheduled religious education classes. There are over 70 organizations and ministries that use Our Lady of the Assumption Parish and School facilities on a regular basis. This does not include the many events that are scheduled by outside groups such as Red Cross Blood Drives, U.S. Census training meetings, Active Citizenship Program, and City of Claremont citizen forums.
There are only four meeting rooms that can comfortably accommodate more than 25 people. Although there are 17 classrooms, there are only four with adult size desks. These classrooms are not adequate for most adult meetings unless they are conducted in a "classroom" style. In order to hold a meeting that fosters interaction, the desks must be moved around. This causes considerable inconvenience and disruption for the school teachers the next day who must deal with getting the desks back into the correct order.
There is inadequate space for child-related activities. Religious Education classes are held in the classrooms. There is not a safe place for children to be kept during the evening and often they are left unsupervised in the hallways, classrooms and outside grounds. This creates a problem for their safety as well as a serious liability problem for the parish and disturbance to other groups meeting on the grounds. When children are allowed to use the classrooms unsupervised, the space is often not treated with respect and educational objects and materials are used and/or abused.
One of the most difficult challenges faced as a parish is the need for use of the auditorium. It is the only space we have (other than the church) that will comfortably accommodate more than 40 people. It is also the only space we have that is not carpeted. So there is great competition for the auditorium for groups like the various age levels of the Girl Scouts who want to do crafts and indoor activities that require floor space. In 1999, the school began using the auditorium for daily school lunch. This has worked out well from many points of view. The only difficulty is that the need for changes in the furniture set up from the school lunch set up to the various needs of many other groups. Leaders are asked to submit requests for furniture set up in advance to the facilities manager. Sometimes the requests are not submitted until the last minute, and this can result in problems due to limited availability of custodial staff to do cleaning and furniture set ups and take downs. Trying to balance and meet the needs of the groups can require the skills of a United Nations negotiator.
Another challenge is when groups show up at the reception window to check out a room key and they have not reserved a meeting space. Although staff has been instructed to do their best to be of service, this is not a good practice to encourage because it only causes difficulties if there are special custodial or maintenance projects planned that will be impeded by unplanned space usage.
Comments, both positive and negative, have been received about the many groups who have representatives stationed outside the church after Saturday and Sunday Masses. OLA is blessed with a wealth of activities and ministries in which parishioners can become involved. All are worthwhile and of great importance to some segment of the parish. Throughout the year these groups plan activities and raise funds for their many projects. They want to share their message with others in the parish and invite participation. These groups are asked to sign up with the parish office when they plan to set up a table outside the church on the weekend. The problem that arises is that there is insufficient space in the patio area adjacent to the church and that some groups do not check with the parish office ahead of time. Members of these various groups sometimes vie for what is perceived as the prime positions on the patio and tension results between the groups. It is not unusual for foot traffic in the patio area to be quite congested between Masses.
Storage space at OLA is always at a premium. Recently some parish groups were assigned space in the upstairs of the convent for storage. This is adequate as a short-term solution only. The convent is set up for residential use and is not an optimum space for storage. Several groups within the parish have complained that members of their ministries are storing large objects in their home garages that are used for certain annual events. These objects, (i.e., the large frame for the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration) are paid for with parish funds. It would be wise for the parish to plan for adequate storage space in the future.
Facilities and Custodial Management
Facilities and Custodial Staffing: In 1995 a facilities manager was hired and in 1996 a maintenance worker was added to the staff. Prior to that time it was primarily the parish administrator and the principal who handled the facilities management of the parish and school. Previously there was a maintenance worker who supervised the custodial staff of two full time workers. There was also a part-time custodial worker who cleaned the church and two full-time housekeepers and one part-time cook for the as many as seven priests who were in residence at any given time in the parish.
Since 1995, there has been gradual and steady changes in the custodial staffing structure. In 1996, a full-time maintenance worker was hired whose schedule included Sunday coverage of the facility. This change has had a positive impact on the Sunday activities in that there is a knowledgeable staff member on site who is able to trouble-shoot as needed.
In early 1998, a facilities consultant conducted a study of the parish and school facilities operations. The consultant concluded that according to industry standards, the parish and school were over-staffed with custodial workers. In addition, because there were only four priests in residence, there was no longer a need for two full-time housekeepers. One of the major recommendations of the study included reassigning two full-time custodial staff to an evening shift in order to effectively clean the school. We have been implementing the consultant’s recommendations since that time. Examples of the recommendations that have been implemented include sending custodial and maintenance staff to training in custodial industry safety and carpet cleaning and implementing use of a time clock for all non-exempt parish employees.
Currently our parish/school facilities and custodial staffing include:
One facilities manager
One assistant facilities manager/maintenance worker
Four full-time custodial workers (This includes one full-time housekeeper for the priests residences and the two evening shift custodians)
One part-time custodial worker
One part-time cook
A contract service that cleans the church and the auditorium on the weekend nights
In addition to the regular custodial duties, the custodial workers and the maintenance worker spend considerable time in furniture set up in the parish auditorium.
An outside contractor has done the grounds keeping since the 1980’s. We have considered bringing this function in-house, but have chosen not to. If we were to take on the grounds keeping duties, the parish would need to invest in the necessary tools and equipment as well as provide for cross-training of staff to perform these tasks in the event of vacation coverage or other long-term absences.
The Catholic community of Our Lady of the Assumption was small at first, and the Religious Ed. Program, using the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) plan of the ‘50's and 60's, was small and intimate and served in the English language only. As soon as it could, the new parish started a Catholic school staffed by the Benedictine Sisters of Glendora. They also assisted with "CCD."
A this was an about-turn for the original Catholic community of Claremont who were Spanish speaking and had met liturgically at Sacred Heart Chapel in east Claremont, a converted home, as a mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in neighboring La Verne. The Carmelite Sisters of Alhambra, CA, had catechized and visited homes using Spanish. At that time, the anglo-Catholics traveled to St. Joseph Parish in neighboring Pomona for Mass, sacraments, and religious education.
With the start of OLA, Spanish-speaking families of Claremont had to travel to Sacred Heart Church in south Pomona if they wished Mass or religious instruction in Spanish. Older Spanish families stayed with and supported the programs of OLA.
Following Vatican II, there was tremendous growth at this parish among the English speaking. Both the Catholic School and the Religious Ed. Program doubled in size. The Felician Sisters replaced the Benedictines at the school, and were likewise involved in Religious Education. Religious Education was still "CCD" and only offered in English.
In the late 70's, our Vietnamese community gradually formed, and by the early 80's had a weekly Vietnamese liturgy here with religious education offered in their own language by their own catechists. The school facility was available to them, but the Director of Religious Education operated out of the trunk of his car. There was still no Spanish liturgy nor Spanish religious education.
The 1980's saw the number of Spanish-speaking peoples dramatically increase in the surrounding vicinity. The request for Spanish religious education and a Spanish liturgy was more and more frequent. In 1992, the present Director of Religious Education began Spanish religion classes, using bilingual materials newly developed int he Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and using bilingual catechists already in place. The classes were limited to those preparing for Eucharist.
We now have a Spanish track, with a bilingual, trained Coordinator, along side our English track on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Spanish classes are still limited to sacrament preparation. Our Vietnamese Director of Religious Education now operates directly out of our Religious Education Center. Vietnamese religion classes are still autonomous, but our Vietnam high school Confirmation students unite with our regular Confirmation classes for retreats and ceremonies. We have a total of 1,150 students from preschool to high school Confirmation, (including 100 Vietnam students), 91 teachers, and 25 aides (including 10 teachers and eight aides from Vietnam programs). Twenty-eight of our First Communion children are also in the Children’s catechumenate group of our RCIA program.
The relationship between OLA School and OLA’s Religious Education Program has always been nourished with care by previous and present pastor(s). The present Director of Religious Education has worked hard to put out any small fires that would diminish the good balance established over a long time — school parents or ambitious catechists would, at times, prefer autonomous ceremonies for First Sacraments.
The parish Director of Religious Education supervises all children’s sacraments in both the School and Religious Education Programs, assisting the parochial school teachers and sharing resources. OLA’s school principal and First Communion teachers (grade 2 in school; grade 3 in Religious Education) are present and active in general parent meetings of First communion families conducted by the Director of Religious Education and Religious Education Coordinators, both in English and Spanish.
All first Reconciliation and First Eucharist liturgies are attended at the same time by both groups. Spanish- and Vietnamese-speaking families choose either English, Spanish, or Vietnamese liturgies for First Sacraments.
High school Confirmation is supervised by the Director of Religious Education, who is a former high school religion teacher with a Master in Religious Education and years of Confirmation teaching.
Catechist Formation: Besides local guidance and supervision by Level Coordinators, formal certification formation courses are offered by the Archdiocese. About every three or four years, one of these formation courses is offered at this parish. A Spanish Faith Formation course is in progress at OLA at this time. Also, our catechists are encouraged at attend our Regional Religious Education Mini-Congress and the well-known Los Angeles Archdiocesan Religious Education Congress each spring.
Adult Religious Education: Adult Bible Study Groups in both English and Spanish; Baptism preparation classes in all three languages for the Baptisms Liturgies in those languages; lecture series in Lent and in summer by visiting theologians; adult Confirmation classes (supervised by the Director of Religious Education); Marriage preparation classes; and an active RCIA team are all part of our parish Adult Religious Education program. Clustering with neighboring parishes is presently under study for some of these adult classes. A Family Workshop was recently held by a sister parish, and our parishioners participated in both presentation and attendance.
· Continuation of our evolution into an amalgamated faith family of various cultures and attitudes living our Mission statement.
· Serious recruitment and training of volunteers to better serve our large population.
· Expansion of our facilities to better accommodate the needs of all ministries.
· Evangelization among the African-American population so numerous in our community yet so absent from our Catholic family.
· Development of leadership among our young adults and youth.
· Provision of family programs with trained adult leadership.
· Preservation of our school with parish-wide fund raising to increase the accessibility to more families.
· Growth in the development of clustering of ministries among the local parishes of our deanery.
We, the faculty, staff and clergy of Our Lady of the Assumption School, believe that the aim of Catholic education is to demonstrate the importance of the Life and Message of Christ as believed and taught by the Catholic Church. We strive to instill in our children a respect for their families, their faith, their community, and the society in which they live. In partnership with their parents, who are the primary educators of their children, we maintain a supportive role. We believe that Catholic Education will impart a body of knowledge of the Catholic Church, that gives children an opportunity to grow in a fashion that will prepare them to live each day fully with Christ. We provide a safe and positive environment for our diverse student body. We offer a challenging, integrated curriculum in grades K-8 for students who attend our school from Claremont and the surrounding communities.
We seek to meet the needs of the whole child; spiritually, intellectually, socially, physically and psychologically. We believe our children must be given opportunities to learn how to love the Lord and others. We foster human compassion and responsibility. We teach our students to respect life, seek truth and knowledge, strive for justice, and appreciate the environment. Consistent with these beliefs, we are dedicated to serve students who strive to realize academic success according to their individual potential. It is through these means that we aim to help our students become productive members of society who exercise Christian values throughout their lives.
Many years ago Claremont was a part of the vast San Gabriel Mission. Following the Edict of Secularization in 1834 the Catholic population of the area was served by Spanish missionaries from nearby La Verne. In 1934, the formation of the community that would become Our Lady of the Assumption Parish began with the construction of Sacred Heart Chapel at the corner of what is now First Street and Claremont Boulevard.
In 1945, Father Tanyanne was sent to Claremont to lay the groundwork for establishing a parish, which was finally accomplished in 1947 by Father John Rengers. In 1948, the site of the present church at the corner of Berkeley and Bonita was purchased, and Father Rengers was replaced by Father Donald Strange, who served as pastor for almost 15 years. Construction of the church was completed in the fall of 1950.
The 1950’s – Establishing a School
The parish community experienced considerable growth in the early 1950's with an influx of management, professional, and academic personnel because of the development of aerospace and manufacturing industries as well as the several local colleges. Father Strange lost no time in building a school and securing the Benedictine Sisters to staff it. In 1955, Our Lady of the Assumption School opened its doors to 200 children in grades one through six. The following year, two more grades were added, completing the eight grades, with a total enrollment of 285 children. Very soon thereafter, the parish auditorium was completed, allowing ample space for meetings and large group events for both parish and school.
The 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s
In 1963, Father William J. Barry became pastor, and very soon the school facilities were expanded with the construction of the Berkeley building, doubling the school’s capacity. Enrollment reached 630 students in 1965. At this time, the Benedictine Sisters withdrew from the school and were replaced by the Felician Sisters who, along with a large lay faculty, continued to staff the school until 1996. A Parish School Board was formed in 1972 to facilitate a closer relationship between the school and the broader OLA and Claremont communities and assist in the financial development of the school.
A decline in enrollment in the 1970’s necessitated closing several classrooms, but the 1980’s saw the enrollment increasing back to its maximum. In 1987, the two-story building which houses the kindergarten on the first floor and the faculty room on the second floor was built. The first kindergarten classes were opened that year.
In 1994, an expansion of facilities for parish meeting and classroom space was built, including a computer lab, religious education offices, and two multi-purpose rooms. Also in 1994 Monsignor William Barry retired, and Father Thomas Welbers was appointed pastor. He continued the tradition of active interest and support for the school. The Parish School Board was reorganized following Archdiocesan guidelines. The first lay principal was hired in 1996. In academic year 1998-99, under a new lay principal, Our Lady of the Assumption School enjoyed a period of renewed growth and stability with the promise of solid academic and financial development in the near future.
Accreditation is a public and professional expression of confidence in a school. It is an ongoing cyclical process. The school is examined and evaluated on its mission and philosophy, on how it carries out its responsibilities to the students, parents, and community to which it belongs. There are formal public standards that a school must meet to be awarded a Certificate of Accreditation. There is a fixed term awarded between two and six years, after which time the school is re-examined and re-evaluated.
In March 1999, Our Lady of the Assumption underwent accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Western Catholic Education Association (WCEA).
The faculty and administration worked for over a year on a "Self Study." Committees and subcommittees of the faculty conducted a thorough self evaluation. The starting point was to update and rewrite the school philosophy. Then, all aspects of school life were examined and investigated in the light of this agreed philosophy, identifying and assessing strengths and weaknesses.
Finally, a team of six appointed by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles came on campus for three days to verify and report on this self study. They looked closely at all aspects of school life. This visiting team then gave its report on their findings as "commendations" and "recommendations." Their report is submitted to WASC and the accreditation term is awarded.
This report guides and supports the development and growth of the school in both the short and long term. Our Lady of the Assumption was accredited until June 2005, a six-year term. During this time the administration and faculty draw up an "action plan" to give direction to the school. The WASC require interim reports on progress at intervals and the next visit and report will be carried out in 2005. This continues the cyclical evaluation process.
The recommendations and commendations of the report follow:
the administration and faculty for providing a variety of religious
experience opportunities to the students. (Self Study, pp. 45, 47, 63, 64;
Conferences with administration, faculty, and students; WASC Criterion: Student
Personnel (Support) Services.)
the administration and faculty for providing a variety of religious
experiences and activities which enrich the faith and spiritual growth of the
students. (Self Study pp. 54, 63;
Conferences with pastor, administration, faculty, and students.)
the principal for her vision, effective leadership, organizational and
managerial skills, open lines of communication, and availability to clergy,
faculty, staff, parents, and students which effectively assists in achieving the
school’s goals objectively. (Self
Study pp. 39, 40, 42, 43, 52; Observation; Conferences with pastor, faculty,
parents, and students.)
the pastor for his dedication and support of the total school program,
positive presence in the school community, and regular communication with the
administration and parents creating unity, effectiveness and well being of the
entire school community. (Self
Study pp. 14, 15, 16, 40, 43; Conferences with administration, faculty, parents,
that the pastor, administration, and school board develop long and short
range financial plans which include the establishment of a development committee
and an endowment fund to secure financial stability for the school.
(Self Study p. 43; Display: Budget; Conference with parents.)
that the administration and faculty seek ways of reinstating a
comprehensive computer curriculum for all grade levels in order to support the
integration of technology into the regular curriculum.
(Self Study pp. 10, 24, 48, 58; Observation; Conferences with
administration, faculty, parents, and students.)
that the pastor and administration implement a long term financial plan
in order ensure the fiscal stability of the school.
(Self Study pp. 29, 43, 86, 87, 88; Display: Budget; Conferences with
pastor, administration, and parents.)
that the pastor, administration, and school board investigate ways to
establish an endowment fund to secure long range financial stability.
(Self Study p. 39; Display: Budget; Conferences with parents.)
Catholic Schools Management visited in December 1999 as part of the Strategic Planning Process for the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption. Their visit was also followed by a report, recommendations, and commendations. See School Assessment Report.
The school is now in the position of having thoroughly scrutinized, inspected, and studied every area of its life. Truly no stone has been left unturned. Goals and objectives are being established to strengthen and reinforce the development of the school in the light of the findings of the two reports. The administration is now in the process of formulating a plan to move the school into the new millennium.
The students at Our Lady of the Assumption School are the future of the Church. We must remain true to our philosophy, build on successes, and make all the necessary adjustments. We must enable our students, both current and future, to live faithful, productive lives in the image of Christ. It is their right, our responsibility.
Teaching and learning in the basic subjects, Religion (including Family Life), Reading and Mathematics, is our immediate concern. New texts are being selected and faculty are to be trained in the implementation of the new schemes. All other subject curricular are to be renewed and replaced in turn.
FACULTY AND STAFF
1. Continuing the professional development of the faculty and staff is vital. Training and support for all personnel is being sought and encouraged. All who deal with the students’ welfare and education need training courses, whether for individuals, groups, subject or grade specific, on or off campus. Courses that renew, remind, and encourage the teaching and learning of the students are so important.
2. Efforts are being made to retain and attract highly qualified faculty and staff both in the short and long term.
It is important to maintain a stable student population. Fluctuating numbers such as has been known is very unsettling. We also recognize the need to maintain a proportionately high number of Catholic students. This may mean reaching to a broader socio-economic group than is currently able to attend.
There is a need to resolve many of the immediate difficulties at Our Lady of the Assumption such as lighting, roof repairs, and the general maintenance required for 40-year-old buildings.
Christian Initiation (R.C.I.A.)
Christian Initiation began at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in 1983 based on the model of the Forum of the North American Catechumenate, under the direction of volunteers with a priest as Spiritual Director. It continued throughout the 1980's with staff directing the process. In the 1990's there was a priest director and volunteers leading the R.C.I.A. In August 1999, a part-time staff director was appointed. Volunteers continue to be a vital part of Christian Initiation.
Inquiry meetings are held on the first and third Tuesday evenings of each months. Formation and Dismissals occur on Sundays, centered on the 11:00 a.m. Mass. There are four catechetical teams, each leading on one Sunday of the month. The plan for the process is Lectionary-based catechesis. FOUNDATIONS IN FAITH is the basis of lesson planning. Each team creates its own approach, reflecting its members’ stories and personalities. Besides Sunday gatherings, there are evening meetings on the first Monday of each month.
Each Sunday Team meets in the Junction on Saturday to prepare the lessons for the next day. Reference materials are kept in the Junction cupboards. Because this room is used by several groups, it often appears to be a storage room, not a welcoming appearance, especially for new members.
The Core Team includes 25 members: the director, priest spiritual director, catechetical team, hospitality team, inquiry coordinator, and the mystagogia coordinator. The Core Team has monthly planning sessions.
Sponsors are an important part of this ministry, varying in numbers according to the numbers of catechumens and candidates participating. Sponsors are expected to make a significant time commitment, including participation in Sunday formation, weekly contact with their sponsorees, each of the first Monday meetings, and all of the Rites.
Our vision for the future contains a year-round program beginning with evangelization and four catechetical liturgical components: Inquiry, pre-catechumenate, formation/dismissal, and mystagogia. This would include a flexible catechumenate community more adaptable to the needs of the individual catechumens and candidates. Our hope is to have all meetings on Sundays, in order to build a maximum sense of community.
Our new plan would include:
· Developing a comprehensive plan for evangelization integrated with our existing Christian Initiation Program.
· Enhancing preparation and education of all leaders (e.g., Marywood Summer Workshop)
· Strengthening the role and preparation of sponsors to enable them to be primary catechetical resources for catechumens and candidates
· Sharing resources within our deanery
· Developing regular opportunities for the entire Christian Initiation community to participate in charitable outreach of the parish and surrounding community.
Our on-site needs include:
· Adequate and appropriate meeting space for all four component groups each Sunday
· Full-time paid Director of Christian Evangelization and Initiation with private office space
· Adequate library space for references and materials
· Funding for retreats/workshops/speakers for Team and Catechumen/Candidate Development
One of our ongoing goals in the Christian Initiation Community is to explore ways to raise the consciousness of the entire parish community and the community beyond the parish boundaries of the central significance of the Christian Initiation process in the life of the Catholic Church.
For most new parishioners, the Sunday liturgy of Our Lady of Assumption Church is their first experience of our parish. They may have heard about OLA as an outstanding parish and want to find out what it is that others have found nourishing. They are greeted by the presider, ushers, and other ministers at the front steps, they see many lay people participating as liturgical ministers, the congregation is led in song by a cantor or choir. Many feel a sense of welcome and hospitality that brings them back time and again, and they decide to enroll as parishioners. It is that experience of the welcoming community and good liturgy that the Liturgy Committee considers its responsibility to continue, improve on, and op to a more involved worship congregation.
OLA has its roots in Sacred Heart Church on First Street, founded as a Spanish mission church. In 1951, Our Lady of Assumption Parish was formed as the first Catholic parish of Claremont. There was an active choir and ushers that served the parish, and women who cleaned the church, washed the linens, etc.
Following Vatican II, two deacons were ordained who served during liturgies, assisted with Baptisms and Baptism preparation, and were commissioned to train liturgical ministers. The Lector ministry was formed in 1973, as well as Eucharistic Minsters to the sick. (During the ‘70's, OLA had a large number of priests in residence studying at the School of Theology, so serving communion at Masses was not a problems.) It was some time in the mid 70's that lay people began to serve as Eucharistic Ministers in the church. In 1974, a "contemporary ensemble" was started which led the singing at 11:15 a.m. and 7 p.m. Masses. The traditional choir was led by a volunteer at the 9 a.m. Mass. Organists were coordinated for daily and Sunday Masses by the head organist. Decor was handled by various ladies of the parish, with input from artists who painted liturgical art or designed pieces which were then sewn.
In 1980, the Liturgy Committee was formed to give leadership to all the various groups and to coordinate their efforts. This original group studied the writings of Fr. Eugene Walsh to get a better understanding of the changes in the liturgy since Vatican II. Some of the Committee’s work included setting and publishing guidelines for liturgical ministers, giving a theme to Lenten services by publishing a booklet, including liturgical dance in Easter or Pentecost liturgies, formalize training and joint meetings for all liturgical ministers, coordinating the extra needs for Christmas and Easter Masses (including making the auditorium into a worship space), introducing children’s liturgies and their Liturgy of the Word. The Committee commissioned some hangings and vestments to be made. There was an attempt to include an adult representative for the altar servers, but that was never successful. One of the parish associate priests was assigned to work with the Committee, some more interested in liturgy than others.
Liturgical ministers were encouraged to attend training offered by the archdioceses as well as the annual liturgy conference. Some also attended the Religious Education Congress. Occasionally an outside speaker would be invited to OLA to address the liturgical ministers. A day away retreat was held at St. Lucy’s High School.
The Mass schedule was altered slightly in the mid ‘80's to allow more time for serving Communion under both species. The time between the Sunday morning Masses needs to allow for parking lot movement. One of the considerations for the Mass schedule was that the change from 8:30 to 8:15 affected the Eucharistic Ministers dismissal to take Communion to the sick.
Other changes during this time were changing the 12:30 Sunday Mass to Spanish, and the addition of a Vietnamese Mass, served by a Vietnamese priest assigned to OLA as an associate. The Vietnamese community has continued to build in numbers, and the Spanish Mass has grown from about 100 to a full church.
In 1992 a part-time liturgy director was hired, one of the Felician sisters of the parish. She became full-time in 1995. She was the liaison with the priests and staff of the parish. She included working with the children and the school and religious education program with her gift of music. Her style was such that Sister felt it appropriate to make most decisions, so the Committee members had less part in discussion of issues. The leaders of various liturgical ministries continued to schedule for Sunday and Holy Day Masses, and provide training. Three years ago the Sister left OLA and the Committee had to rebuild, learning once again to take ownership of liturgical decisions.
There are currently 10 Masses every weekend, served by three parish priests, one priest in residence, and one deacon. The variety of musical styles cater to many musical tastes and encourage participation. The Vietnamese Mass is at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The Spanish Mass is at 12:30 p.m. with input and coordination from the Hispanic Liturgy Committee. Lay liturgical ministries for the English Masses are as follows:
· Music: Full-time music director gives leadership to cantors, organists and several choirs, Contemporary Ensemble, Youth Ensemble, Hispanic Choir, and Vietnamese Choir serve four of the Sunday Masses.
· Eucharistic Ministers to the sick (55) are sent forth from the 8:15 Mass to seven local nursing homes and care facilities and 20 to 30 private homes of parishioners.
· Eucharistic Ministers to the church: (over 120) serve Communion under both species at all the English Masses.
· Lectors: There is a three-person team who coordinates the lectors. There is a lector and commentator at each Mass.
· Ushers: There is a coordinator or ushers and a captain at each Mass to assure there are enough to handle usher duties — greeting people, helping with seating, taking the collection, directing for Communion, and distributing the bulletin. The way this ministry is conducted varies considerably from Mass to Mass.
· Church Decor is handled by a very small group who change hangings with the seasons, create new pieces, and maintain the plants in the church.
· Altar Servers are been trained and scheduled by an associate pastor (currently Fr. Anthony Lee) with the assistance of a lay team. Children are dismissed for their own Liturgy of the Word at the 9:30 and 11:00 Masses.
The Liturgy Committee meets twice a month during the school year (once a month in the summer), and is made up of the leaders of these ministries, plus a few members at large. One person serves as sacristan for the extra Masses held in the auditorium at Christmas and Easter. For special parish-wide celebrations the Committee works together with leaders of the Hispanic and Vietnamese communities. During a typical meeting, the Committee takes time for discussion on the Cardinal’s Pastor Letter, "Gather Faithfully Together," and deals with upcoming seasonal liturgies, particular projects and ministries, and any issues brought forth by the ministry leaders.
All the liturgical ministry leaders provide in-parish training: cantors through the Archdioceses, one-on-one training and mentoring for EMs and lectors as well as archdiocesan programs, usher captains meets to discuss how best they can serve, EMs to the sick are trained on-the-job. We have a joint annual meeting for all liturgical ministers for spiritual growth.
Our planning includes scheduling of Lent and Advent penance services, Stations of the Cross, a special All souls Mass for the families of those who have died in the past year, a special Thanksgiving service, assisting with the Confirmation Mass, commissioning of Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers, coordinating with RCIA for Sunday Masses and Easter vigil, and other special liturgies such as the parish 50th anniversary. We have no one on the Committee to work with weddings. Members of the Bereavement Committee assist families with funeral planning. Sacramental preparation is handled by the school, Religious Education, and RCIA programs.
The Lector leaders have been writing the Sunday Prayer of the Faithful which would be more timely and contextual than the one we got from a publisher. We have been selecting a weekly liturgical article which is printed on the bulletin cover each Sunday, in hopes of helping the congregation learn more about liturgy — what brings us together each Sunday.
The Committee has been studying and reflecting on the Cardinal’s Letter "Gather Faithfully Together" to guide and inspire us to provide OLA with the best liturgy we possibly can. By proclaiming the Word, inviting all to sing, welcoming people as they enter, serving the Body and Blood of Christ reverently, and being models of participating to the congregation, we hope to bring our love of the liturgy to all the parish.
The Liturgy Committee recognizes there is much more that could be done with the addition of a liturgy director on staff. We have written a job description and hope to have someone hired by Fall 2000. Visions under the direction of a Liturgy Director include:
· The lay liturgical leaders will still continue in the Committee and will be supported by a director with regular, formal training opportunities, spiritual formation and coordination.
· There would be better communication with all the parish priests.
· Assist and coordinate with the school and religious education programs for their special liturgies.
· Formation of a Liturgy Resource Center for the parish.
· Continuing catechists on liturgy could be offered to the school, religious education, youth, and the parish.
· The Liturgy Committee would have an annual spiritual retreat.
· Regular recruiting, spiritual nurturing, and development of new leaders in liturgical ministries would be addressed. Leadership of liturgical ministries would be rotated every two years.
· Weekday Mass, Eucharistic adoration, and other devotions would get some attention.
· We could liaise with bridal couples to make their weddings meaningful liturgical celebrations.
Space has been a problem for a long time — space for meetings, training, music practices. Space for storing hangings and seasonal decorations safely. Space for resources.
But mostly, space for worship as a community. A newer church could incorporate design in fitting with our worship and prayer life today: a more appropriate baptism font area, seating closer to the altar, a weekday chapel section, a larger sacristy, and more modern confessionals, to name a few.
In some ways we are "victims of our own success." OLA has a reputation for hospitality and people feel welcome. Many of the weekend Masses (4 and 5:40 on Saturday, 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday) do not fill the church. Several of the Sunday Masses do fill the church and would probably attract more people if there were room. Even so, we need to look at the fact that we have 10 weekend Masses and three parish priests. It won’t always be so. A larger church would accommodate more people if we had to reduce the number of Masses each weekend.
Community: Common Life
Parish Community Spirituality: Donna Marie Minano
Unity and Diversity
Spanish Speaking: Adeline Cardenas-Clague
Vietnamese: Fr. John Tran & Adeline Cardenas-Clague
Youth: Adeline Cardenas-Clague
The Poor, Marginalized , and Alienated: Adeline Cardenas-Clague
Community Relations: Fr. Tom Welbers
Leadership, Direction, and Decision Making: Fr. Tom Welbers
Christian Service and Outreach
Ministry to the Sick, Dying, and Grieving Janette Gould
Pastoral Counseling: Janette Gould & Dr. Vivian Thomas
Service and Advocacy: Janette Gould
St. Vincent de Paul Society: Ray Fleck
Parish Support Services
Finance: Mary Jean Neault & Bing Macavinta
The Role of the Parish Office: Mary Jean Neault & Ana Smead
Buildings and Grounds: John Maeder & George Ostertag
Parish Events and Facilities Usage: Mary Jean Neault & Ana Smead
Facilities and Custodial Management: Mary Jean Neault & George Ostertag
Religious Education: Sr. Claire Kehl
Parish School: Bernadette Boyle
Evangelization and Initiation – RCIA: Elaine Beliveau & Fr. Tom Welbers
Worship – Liturgy: Cathi Popko & Fr. Tom Welbers
And a special thanks to our final compiler and editor, Margaret Porter.