Restaurant owner Johnny Pernicano welcomed fellow parishioners to his Italian eatery for Mass and pizza on a Sunday in May this year, much the same as he did 60 years ago at the founding of the new All Hallows Catholic Church.
Neighboring Catholic parishes were bursting at the seams, and the Bishop of San Diego Diocese, the Most Reverend Charles F. Buddy, established a third congregation for La Jolla in March 1959.
Churchgoers met at Pernicano’s Family Restaurant, La Jolla Women’s Club, and even assembled among carved images in La Jolla’s Town House Hotel while a church edifice was being raised on Mount Soledad.
“Contracts were let, and as often happens, the lowest bid is awarded the building contract. And so it was at All Hallows,” laughs retired building contractor, Leonard Teyssier. “We always figured that to win a job, build it quicker so there’s not so much overhead. We built the church and rectory in just eight months for about $160,000.”
Teyssier is also responsible for a number of other notable structures around town, among them the Ocean Beach Fishing Pier, Le Rondelet in Point Loma, and, curiously, the city’s first outdoor elevator at the landmark hotel, El Cortez.
The Catholic Parish of All Hallows began its Diamond Jubilee celebration on Nov. 1 last year with a Founders Reception, and peaks this Nov. 1 with the time-honored Bal de la Toussaint (meaning All the Saints). Tickets for the dinner dance at La Jolla Country Club are available online at AllHallows.com. The congregation invites people everywhere who have enjoyed association with All Hallows to join the commemoration.
Parishioner Mary Jane Fee remembers, “It was a big church and we all wondered how to pay for it. Bishop Buddy gave our pastor permission to sign up people who were already attending Mary, Star of the Sea.”
Fundraising efforts were aggressive by the Charter Parish Council, Men’s Club, Woman’s Guild, and generosity of individual donors. Interestingly, two additional acres of usable land for the parish were created by donations of fill dirt.
Acquisition of the breathtaking six-acre site on Mount Soledad began with a generous donation by Carlos Traveras. According to church history, “At the time, few realized that the location provided a link to the Catholic Church’s past in San Diego. Named after Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, Our Lady of Solitude, Mount Soledad was home to many Indians as noted in Mission records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths.”
The founding pastor officiated a 30-minute groundbreaking and blessing ceremony on Apr. 17, 1960. A long-awaited first Mass in the new church was celebrated on Easter Sunday, Apr. 2, 1961.
In November 1961, at the Feast of All Saints, Bishop Buddy formally dedicated the lovely A-frame, Romanesque- or Norman-style structure that stands high above San Diego and in view of the Pacific Ocean.
Historically, the original All Hallows (Anglican) Parish Church belonged to 12th century London. It was the focal point of the town’s pride and a landmark to the wanderer. The Norman-style is also symbolic of Western man’s emergence from the Dark Ages to a better time and was the Bishop’s deliberate choice 60 years ago for La Jolla’s new Catholic church.
Campus expansion over these 60 years has been extensive and includes a former Convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, All Hallows Academy for grades TK through Eight, and the Parish Center of offices, library, meeting rooms, kitchen facilities, and the parking garage.
“All Hallows has stayed true to its original mission,” says Cindy Bosh, church stewardship administrator. “We serve Catholics in our geographical assignment and reach far beyond those borders in philanthropy to a different group every month of the year.”
Congratulations, All Hallows! “Well done, good and faithful servants.”