In 1928 Bishop John Cantwell, head of the Diocese of Los Angeles, invited the Paulist Fathers to establish a new parish in the Westwood Hills area that would serve the new UCLA campus and surrounding community. He also asked them to take care of “the Moving Picture people.” The first Mass was held in a storefront at 10374 Ashton Avenue, Westwood Hills in 1928. The store owner, Phil Cohen, leased the real estate office to the Paulist Fathers. The first mass was held in the office with a desk as the first altar.
Over the next four years Masses and religious instruction were held at numerous sites. Three times property was purchased for the new parish and then found to be unsuitable. Finally in late 1930, property at Ohio and Selby was purchased and construction began. The original church (now the Upper Social Hall and Parish Offices) was dedicated and went into use in 1932. The first section of the school was opened in 1935 and staffed from its inception by the Daughters of Mary and Joseph.
Following World War II Southern California experienced a huge population boom…many of whom were Catholic. New parishes sprouted everywhere and “older” parishes – like St. Paul’s – built new and larger facilities to hold the crowds. Ground was broken for the current church structure in 1956. Construction was completed in the spring of 1958 and the new church, which is still in use today, was dedicated on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 1958.
2008 marked the 80th anniversary of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Community. The Paulist Fathers and the Daughters of Mary and Joseph continue to staff the parish…but now they collaborate with dozens of dedicated men and women who together carry out the community’s mission and vision.
St. Paul the Apostle School was established in 1935 under the guidance of the Paulist Fathers and the Daughters of Mary and Joseph. In the decades since its founding, the school has expanded from six classrooms to 18, also adding a science lab, library/media center, choir/music room, Early Literacy lab, Art Literacy studio, and athletic department.
The school enrolls 540 students each academic year in double classrooms for grades K-8, offering a rigorous education of the whole person, helping prepare student for success in high school, college, and life.
Over the next two years St. Paul’s plans to build a new Learning Center and Gymnasium, containing 35,000 square feet designed for advanced learning and technology, as well as a 7,150-square-foot gymnasium. This will replace the old middle school building, which is both outdated and undersized. Included in the building will be a state-of-the-art library/learning resource and media center.
We are looking forward to ensuring the bright future of St. Paul’s with this expansion. It will not only support our high-caliber faculty and curriculum, but also promote 21st century teaching and learning, alleviate over-crowding throughout campus, and provide a valuable new resource to the St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Community.