About the church

Parish Mission Statement

We, the Catholic Community of St. Philip Benizi, enriched by our cultural diversity, recognize, accept, and respond to the call to live the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We are nourished through Word and Sacrament, energized through participation in various ministries and social gatherings,and compassionately serve our brothers and sisters in need.

De La Mision Parroquial

Nosotros, la Comunidad Católica de San Felipe Benizi, enriquecidos por nuestra diversidad cultural, reconocemos, aceptamos, y respondemos al llamado para vivir el Mensaje Evangélico de Nuestro Señor Je- sucristo. Nos alimentamos con la Palabra de Dios y los sacramentos, nos energizamos a través de la participa- ción en diversos ministerios y reuniones sociales, y con compasión servimos a nuestros hermanos y hermanas en necesidad.

History

  • Order of Friar Servants of Mary

    1957-1958

    In December, 1957, negotiations were arranged between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (the Diocese of Orange did not exist until 1976) and the Order of Friar Servants of Mary (Servites) for the opening of a new parish in Fullerton. The new parish was formed from parts of St. Mary’s, St. Boniface, and St. Pius V and in January 1958, Fr. Manettus L. Ortmann, O.S.M. was named pastor of St. Philip Benizi. The parish had a school (opened in 1957) called St. Mary’s Annex at the time, but no sanctuary. So on Sunday, March 16, 1958, the St. Philip Parish Community came together for the first time at two Masses celebrated in the Merilark Roller Rink on Gilbert just north of Commonwealth. That afternoon, Father Ortmann baptized the first two children in a temporary chapel set up in a school classroom.

  • 1958-1959

    In June, 1958, the first pledge drive was announced to pay the debt anticipated in the building program. In late August, final detailed plans for a new 740-seat church building were approved and a month later, the selected architect’s drawings of a new church and hall were published and the selected bidder began the construction of the new home of St. Philip Benizi parish. In December, 1958, Sunday and Holy Day Masses were moved from the roller rink to Servite High School. As the new parish church took shape, many fund raisers were held and planning began for an event, to be called a Fiesta, to be held on October 16th, 17th, and 18th, 1959.

  • 1958-1959

    Finally, the first Masses in the new church were offered on July 19th with the formal dedication held on the feast of St. Philip Benizi, August 23rd, 1959. The parish was now whole with a new church/hall, rectory, and school.

    As the parish grew, the need for a separate parish hall became apparent, and much like 1958, the pledge cards went out and the fund raising began. That new hall opened in 1993 and in 1999, the final payment was made and a special dinner/dance was held to celebrate being debt free.

  • August 2000

    On August 17th, 2000, at around 2:20 p.m., tragedy struck St. Philip Benizi as a fire, determined by fire officials to be the work of an arsonist, gutted the church and left a brick hulk. As word of the fire spread, many parishioners gathered in the streets and watched the fire shoot out of what were skylights over the altar. All the windows were blown out and the inside was reduced to ashes. Masses were immediately moved to Orangethorpe United Methodist Church and Servite High School until a temporary tent could be placed in the parish parking lot.

  • 2000-2001

    From September 2000 to March 2001, the tent was "home". Many jokingly called it our "circus tent" but that name brought smiles to faces at a time when many felt a great loss. All were reminded that it was only a building and that we would "rise from the ashes". Then a steel structure, with "tent like" material for the roof and walls, was built on the school grounds. That would be our place of worship until either the old church was rebuilt or a new structure was constructed.

  • 2001-2005

    In September 2001, the parish proposed to the Diocese of Orange, that the rectory and burned church be torn down and a new sanctuary be built on the corner of Pine and Valencia. The priests would move to an off campus site. A building committee was selected and the meetings began. In March 2003, the Fullerton Planning Commission approved a new 1,000 seat church and in June 2003, Bishop Tod Brown held a symbolic groundbreaking. In June 2004, the long awaited construction began and despite one of the wettest winters in Southern California history, the “Rise from the Ashes” concludes and we gloriously celebrate the dedication of our new church, by Bishop Tod Brown, on March 12th, 2005.

Since that first day in 1958, the St. Philip Benizi Catholic Community has grown to over 3000 families. We thank God for his blessings and our new sanctuary.