A Brief History of St. John the Evangelist Church

University Heights used to be part of St. Joseph’s Parish (Cathedral), which had been founded in 1874 with Fr. Anton Ubach as pastor. In 1912, a group of local ladies appealed to Fr. Nunan, the existing pastor of St. Joseph’s, to establish a new parish here. He encouraged them, but his successor, Fr. Heffernan, wanted them to remain in his jurisdiction. The Catholic ladies group finally appealed to the new Archbishop of Los Angeles and San Diego, the Most Rev. John J. Cantwell, and he agreed, and in late 1913 appointed Fr. Peter McNellis as Pastor of the new parish in University Heights.

In 1914 great efforts were made by pastor and people to buy property and build a church. They purchased the property at Lincoln and Normal. Fr. Loughlin Golden succeeded Fr. McNellis as pastor and assisted by Fr. McCormick, erected our first church building in honor of St. John the Evangelist in 1915. This served as the parish center of worship until the present church at Polk and Normal was dedicated by Bishop Buddy on May 30, 1952.


Priests who served at St John the Evangelist Church

Rev. Charles Moat SVD, 2021-Current

Rev. Kevin Casey SJ, 2017-2021

Bp. John P. Dolan, 2016-2017

Rev. Henry Rodriguez, 2016

Rev. William Dillard, 2003 – 2014

Rev. Philip Sessions, 1999-2003

Rev. George Byrne, 1999-1999

Rev. Msgr. Anthony Giesing, 1988-1999

Rev. Msgr. Andrew Hanley, 1970-1988

Rev. Vincent Walters, 1969-1970

Rev. Msgr. M.C. O’Connor, 1945-1969

Rev. Msgr. John B. Cotter, 1930-1945

Rev. Martin C. Keating, 1927-1930

Rev. Paul de Munck, 1924-1927

Rev. Thos F. King, 1918-1924

Rev. L.P. Golden, 1914-1918

Rev. Peter McNellis, 1913-1914