OLA celebrates 75th birthday in grand style
by Peter Weinberger
There’s no question Saturday, August 20 was a historic day for Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Claremont.
Its 75th Jubilee celebrated the March day in 1947 when OLA was established as a parish, and to honor the occasion, Archbishop of Los Angeles Reverend José H. Gomez presided over a diverse group of parishioners in an emotional event filled with music, song and prayer.
The Mass blended elements of OLA’s diverse cultures, opening with a liturgical dance by the Vietnamese group directed by Anna Huong. A combined choir led songs in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, under the direction of Mary Muñoz, Roberto Roman and Tinh Nguyen, including alternating verses for Amazing Grace. The theme for this year’s jubilee is “Seventy-Five Years of Growing in Grace.”
Archbishop Gomez interpreted the scriptures of the day, exhorting the people to make their lives a “prayer for others,” and offered a special blessing for the occasion.
For those who have never witnessed a Mass with an archbishop, it’s like going to church with a VIP celebrity, in a packed house of 500 people, as cellphones are held high for photos with the crowd singing enthusiastically throughout a 90-minute service.
It was a festive occasion. OLA’s Reverend Charles Ramirez talked about the church’s history, mentioning leaders such as Monsignor William Barry, who “Welcomed the Vietnamese community to the parish back in 1975,” near the end of the Vietnam War when so many families were displaced.
In 1947, the parish was formed to bring together the Spanish and English-speaking Catholics in the Claremont-Pomona area. Many OLA parishioners are descendants of the original residents from Claremont’s barrios on the east side of the city.
After the Mass, the crowd of all ages dressed in colorful formal attire followed Archbishop Gomez outside for more pictures. Families with children wanted group photos, and many reached out for hugs and handshakes.
The church asked the COURIER to give a special shout out to Pinky Reymundo, the chairperson of the event who worked to make it all happen. It’s not every day an archbishop comes to visit.
The day ended with a church-wide barbeque outside the school as the sun slowly faded. It was a good day for OLA.