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It took a village to remake OLA's church

Our Lady of Assumption Church (OLA) further explains how the renovation was completed

Fifteen years of planning and a five-year capital campaign culminated in the August 10 Dedication Mass with Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles presiding at the newly-renovated church of Our Lady of the Assumption (OLA). Its current pastor is the Rev. Charles Ramirez who has served there for ten years.

Parishioners, clergy, donors, contractors and city officials followed the archbishop from a temporary worship space to the church entrance where he was presented with the key as a sign that the building is under his pastoral care. Chairman of the capital campaign, Jose Gutierrez, summarized what had been accomplished in the $5.5 million renovation of the 1951 church and presented the archbishop with a photo record.

The Dedication Mass included a rite of purification of the walls, the altar and the people, followed by readings from scripture in Spanish, Vietnamese and English, languages in which the Mass is celebrated each week at OLA. The relics of saints were permanently deposited in the altar, a rite with roots in the historical practice of building church altars over saintly burial sites.

The archbishop anointed the altar with oil, and then his fellow priests anointed the walls of the church. Incense was offered at the altar, followed by the lighting of candles throughout the church. At this point the archbishop announced that the altar and church were now dedicated and ready for use in Catholic liturgies.

The remaining service consisted of the Liturgy of the Eucharist a final blessing of the tabernacle to hold the Eucharist in reserve, and the lighting of the perpetual sanctuary candle.

The OLA renovation of the 68-year-old building near downtown Claremont preserved its iconic bell tower and entryway arch, as well as its renowned stained-glass windows by Barillet Studios of Paris and Piczek Studios of Los Angeles depicting the life of the Virgin Mary. New sacred art includes a hand-carved reredos (wall 16 X 18 feet) behind the altar that integrates a life-size crucifix, the tabernacle, sanctuary candle and an image of Mary. OLA commissioned its reredos and sanctuary furniture from Artesanos Don Bosco, an indigenous community founded by the Salesian missionary order in Chacas, Peru, which supports itself through commissions from around the world.

Other capital improvements include strengthening the tile roof with structural steel, adding a new vestibule and handicapped accessible features, improving climate, sound and lighting systems, adding new pews and flooring, a new baptismal font and sustainable landscaping.

Corey Calaycay, mayor of Claremont and an OLA parishioner, presented Fr. Ramirez with a certificate of appreciation from the City. He attended along with other city council members and staff, representatives from Van Crest Construction Company, Architect Victor Newlove, and visiting clergy.