For 125 years, St. Monica Catholic Church has given back to the community. On Saturday, people from around Santa Monica joined together for a special mass to celebrate the church's standing in the community.
"It's an incredibly blessed community," said Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, St. Monica's pastor of 25 years. "We are a community that gathers together here, helping to form loving disciples who go out and make a difference in this world."
Suzanne Verge's family has been a part of St. Monica for four generations. She was the third generation, and her kids are currently enrolled in the school.
"St. Monica, I think, is a tremendous treasure to the community," Verge said. "I think we do so much... I think we feel a tremendous responsibility to give back and to be people of social justice."
Rose Marie Layman's family has been in the community since the 1930's. She helped coordinate the event on Saturday and will help in the upcoming events to celebrate the anniversary later in the year.
St. Monica will host St. Monica Day at the Santa Monica Pier in August and will have a community service day in October. Layman said helping is what the members do.
"To me, it (St. Monica) is home," Layman said. "All of the friends that my husband and I have made over our lifetime are from here... I think that carries out to the community because we are a family here, and so you can go out and make people feel welcome by our sense of family."
Signs around the church carry the slogan "All Are Welcome."
"St. Monica is known to be the place where all are welcome," said Dale Sieverding, chair of the 125th Anniversary Committee. "Msgr. Torgerson, our pastor, welcomes everybody that comes to our block, everyone who comes to our parish. We extend that welcome to anyone who wants to come and worship with us, to pray with us. Everyone is welcome here."
St. Monica has been to Nairobi, Kenya; Tijuana, Mexico and to homeless shelters in their community, just to name a few. Msgr. Torgerson said he wants to keep the tradition.
"My hope for the future is that we continue to live faithfully (through) the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ," Torgerson said, "that we remain faithful to helping form these great people to go out and make this difference in this world. I hope that we continue to be a church that's alive, that's a light, that makes a difference."
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