Mission San Conrado History began in 1939
Downtown Island to Have a Church
by Hermine Lees
(Oct. 21, 1966)
Below Dodger Stadium hemmed by Elysian Park, The Pasadena Freeway and the stadium grounds, is an isolated community of approximately 250 families.
Most of the families in this Solano Ave. district are ordinary working people. Most of them are Catholics of Mexican descent. Their breadwinners hold a variety of jobs in downtown Los Angeles, in industry and in the nearby Southern Pacific freight yards. The homes along the hill sides are modest frame structures- a few of them ram shackled, most of them neat an dwell kept.
The largest "home" in the area is San Conrado Mission. The old two-story residence was moved to its present site on Bouett in 1939 and remodeled as a chapel and catechetical center.
Three years ago the second floor was converted to a convent for Missionary Sisters of St. Charles who carry on catechetical and social work at San Conrado and in surrounding parishes.
The chapel, seating scarcely 50 persons, has long been inadequate, and it fails to measure up to new standards of building and safety for places of public assembly.
This Sunday noon Father Thomas Marin, C.M.F., who opened the mission in 1939, will break ground for a new San Conrado.
The new mission at the corner of Bouett and Amador Sts., across from the old center, will include a chapel seating 200 persons and a lower floor multi-purpose hall. Folding partitions will permit the hall to be divided into catechetical classrooms.
The hillside site will give street-level entrance to both floors. The lower portion of the neat, California-modern style building will be of brick and concrete; the upper chapel area will be of frame and stucco construction.
Facilities will include a platform and kitchen for the hall, and behind the second floor chapel, offices and sacristies.
The main altar is planned to permit the celebrant of Mass to face the congregation. One of the two side altars will be dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The new mission chapel was designed by Brown & Avila, architects and will be built by Alex Sutherland, general contractor.
In 1939 Fr. Matin was pastor of El Santo Nino Church located at what is now a portion of the Dodger Stadium parking lot beyond center field. Even then the hill-locked Solano Ave. residents were isolated, and the Claretian pastor decided they needed their own chapel and catechetical center. A large home became available in the development of a city playground , and a site was donated by Mrs. Juanita Rodela and her daughter, Mrs. Frances Schutte. Fr. Matin had the home moved to teh nearby site.
The mission appropriately was named for St. Conrad of Parzham, a Capuchin lay brother known for his charity to the poor. St. Conrad died in 1894, and was canonized in 1934, five years before the mission was founded.
Father Matin, while he shepherded the Effie Street chapel of Santo Nino, had also opened San Conrado on isolated Solano Avenue just over the hill from the stadium. He returned in 1959 and directed a new church building in 1967 and continued at that ministry until his death in 1975.
Many of the parishioners continue praying to Father Matin in memory of all his efforts for the "uprooted" and the poor. His burial site at San Gabriel Mission remains a place of pilgrimage for those who remember the white haired Padre Tomas, who lived with them and for them in the Ravines.
Read more on Fr. Tomas here: