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Lay foundation arises to save Hollywood’s Monastery of the Angels

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HOLLYWOOD

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J-P Mauro - published on 05/21/22

The Monastery of the Angels Foundation of Los Angeles wants to preserve the storied property as a refuge from secular Hollywood life.

As the aging religious community at the storied Monastery of the Angels gets smaller and smaller, the Los Angeles Catholic lay community is attempting to save and preserve the property. The Monastery of the Angels Foundation of Los Angeles, a non-profit in the process of formation, wants to acquire the monastery to ensure that it remains a sacred space and a sanctuary from secular Hollywood life for decades to come. 

Monastery of the Angels

Since 1949, the Dominican Nuns of the Sacred Order of Preachers have operated the Monastery of the Angels. There, the community practices perpetual adoration and dedicates themselves to studying the scriptures and prayer for the world outside their walls. The cloistered order quickly became a Hollywood mainstay and has been regarded by many as the Catholic heart of tinseltown. 

In recent years, however, many of the sisters have become too old to continue maintaining the property. This situation has only been exacerbated by the world pandemic, which saw several nuns fall to COVID-19. With only a handful of nuns remaining, the order has begun to search for alternative means to sustain the property. 

In an interview with Religion News Service, prioress Sister Maria Christine, president of the Association of North American Dominican Monasteries, said that the order is “looking at many options,” one of which would be to bring in another religious order to manage the property. Sr. Maria Christine said: 

“We continue to wait for the official canonical permissions in order to proceed. Our goal is to retain the beauty of the property and continue to be a source of spiritual enrichment for all who come to pray,” she told Religion News Service in an email Friday. 

Lay campaign

The nuns are exploring their options, but a lay group has arisen that seeks to solve the problem themselves. The Monastery of the Angels Foundation of Los Angeles is a group formed with the express goal of saving the monastery. The group, which is working to be recognized as a non-profit, wants to acquire the property to ensure that it remains a sacred space to serve the Catholic community of Los Angeles. 

The foundation has already launched a website, Friends of the Angels, as well as a petition that has garnered nearly 4,300 signatures as of May 20. On their website they outline their plans for the monastery which include guided tours, prayer services, occasional Masses, and making the property available as a serene place to pray and escape the hectic secular life of Hollywood. 

The foundation wrote on their planning page: 

“Allowing the Monastery of the Angels Foundation of Los Angeles to move forward with the safeguarding of the Monastery of the Angels’ status as a Catholic sacred space and place of worship, preserving its sacred character as defined by canon law, will ensure that Hollywood will not lose a sacred space and source of grace for all in the community.”

Foreign investors

Speaking to Religious News Service, Richard Schave, one of the minds behind the foundation, noted that they want to ensure the property doesn’t fall into the hands of foreign investors. The fear is that an outside party who is not familiar with the monastery’s value to the community will buy the land up for redevelopment.

“We need to be proactive,” Schave said. “If we just let this go and put our faith in the Dominican Federation and the Holy See, I do not believe we will achieve that goal.”

The Friends of the Angels website does not indicate how much money would need to be raised in order to secure the monastery. They do, however, offer a newsletter which would allow interested parties to stay up to date with the development of the foundation and their work. 

Click here to learn more about the Monastery of the Angels Foundation of Los Angeles’ plans. 

Visit Change.org to sign their petition.

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