The Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles José H. Gomez will lead a special Centennial Mass on Aug. 13, which will be followed by a reception in the hall and courtyards of the historic church.
“I am looking forward to celebrating this anniversary with the family of God at Good Shepherd,” Gomez said. “It will be a beautiful moment to thank God for all his blessings during these last 100 years, and to ask for the grace to continue forward in our mission of sharing God’s love in our community.”
Reverend Edward Benioff, pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd, is greatly looking forward to welcoming Archbishop Gomez next Sunday.
“Archbishop Gomez is the head of the church here in Los Angeles and of 5 million Catholics in the county of LA so we’re honored that he’s going to join us for this celebration,” Benioff said. “It makes it very special.”
A wide range of civic leaders, city staff, religious leaders and parishioners will attend the invitation-only event. Those expected to attend include LA County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, former Gov. Gray Davis, Mayor Dr. Julian Gold, Councilmember Lili Bosse, Councilmember Sharona Nazarian, City Manager Nancy Hunt-Coffey and Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook.
“One hundred years of soul-filling service is certainly to be celebrated,” Horvath told the Courier. “From daily masses to essential community services like ‘Feed My Poor,’ Church of the Good Shepherd puts faith into action. I look forward to being part of the centennial mass this Sunday, alongside Mayor Gold and the Beverly Hills community.”
Parishioner Christine Redlin played a key role in planning the Centennial Celebration over several months and is eager to welcome community members to share in the history and holiness of the church.
“The church, the parish, the people are just packed with faith, like enormous larger-than-life divine faith,” she said. “It’s important for us to really showcase that it’s our centennial here in the community because it’s such an honor for both the parishioners and for the community of Beverly Hills.”
The Church of the Good Shepherd has a long history of worship, service and education in the city of Beverly Hills.
It was founded on Dec. 12, 1923, just nine years after the city of Beverly Hills was incorporated. The very first services took place in a small room inside the Windemere Apartments and continued in the Beverly Hills Hotel while the church was being constructed in 1924.
In 1930, the Good Shepherd Parish School opened at Linden Drive and Charleville Boulevard. The school continues to educate students in Transitional Kindergarten through 8th grade under its original principles of Excellence in Faith, Academics and Service.
The church, which is located at 504 N. Roxbury Drive, is an impressive structure designed by architect J.J. Donnellan in the Mission Revival style. It rises to the height of five stories and is adorned with golden-domed bell towers, open arches, a central gabled roof and intricate stained-glass windows.
It was completed in 1925 and has been the beloved spiritual home of the parish ever since.
Soon after its founding, the church became a home for many of the Catholic movie stars who settled in Beverly Hills such as Rudolph Valentino and Bing Crosby. Over the years, it has also hosted many A-list weddings and funerals including the union of Elizabeth Taylor and Conrad Hilton and the passings of Alfred Hitchcock and Frank Sinatra.
Valentino’s 1926 funeral at the church was particularly noteworthy, local historian Phil Savenick told the Courier.
After Valentino’s New York funeral turned ugly as 100,000 fans fought for a chance to see the body, the Beverly Hills Police Department knew they needed to formulate a plan for his hometown service just three days later.
“Valets met cars while traffic was sent another direction, mourners were led inside and the throngs could view the activity while safely isolated along Santa Monica Boulevard,” said Savenick. “It was the first use of the phrase ‘crowd control’.”
President John F. Kennedy was known to attend mass at the church when he traveled to Los Angeles. These visits required a sweeping of the church by the Secret Service and the installation of a special phone to Washington D.C. but were nonetheless greatly enjoyed by the parishioners and by Msgr. Daniel Sullivan, who led the parish from 1958 to 1982.
Benioff became the seventh pastor of the church in 2015 and has lovingly and devotedly led his flock ever since.
“I love being here and being in a glamorous city like Beverly Hills and I just love the people,” said Benioff. “One hundred years is a huge accomplishment and I’m humbled to be the pastor during this time.”
As part of the Centennial celebrations, the parish is working with the city to have the church designated as a historic landmark.
“We’re so honored for the city to recognize us with this historic designation,” said Benioff. “Our chest is swelling with pride.”