June 1955 saw the spiritual growth of Van Nuys in San Fernando Valley with the establishment of the St. Bridget of Sweden Catholic Community. It was that time when James Francis Cardinal McIntyre formally established St. Bridget of Sweden Parish as an offshoot of St. Elisabeth and St. Catherine of Siena parishes. With approximately 1,000 families from its surrounding boundaries willing to put their faith into practice, the parish started with a home for the rectory, a guest house, and unimproved land.
In the absence of a physical church, masses were held in either the guest house or the rented auditorium at neighboring Gault Elementary School. Fr. Patrick McGoldrick held the first meeting in the guest house to discuss plans for the school and the 800-seat school auditorium approved by the Chancery. The cost of the project was estimated at $450,000 ($3.2 million dollars today).
After a census of families in the parish, a fund raising/pledge drive was held and successfully raised the necessary funds to start construction. From May through December of 1956, Pozo construction built the auditorium. On Christmas Day of 1956, the first mass was held in the auditorium until a permanent church was built facing Sherman Way.
1957 saw the expansion of the Van Nuys airport, resulting in the loss of a significant portion of the parish. With no need for a larger church, Cardinal McIntyre dedicated the auditorium as the new church on March 2, 1958.
1959 saw the groundbreaking for the convent. With its completion in 1960, the parish plan was completed and efforts of the parishioners were directed towards the enrichment of their (parish) spiritual life. Many activities and organizations such as the Women’s Sodality, the Men’s Club, the parish festival and variety shows were established to strengthen the bonds among the parish families.
1960 through the 70’s saw the continued growth of the parish, becoming a new home to many new families. This early period of the parish ended with the untimely death of Fr. McGoldrick as he prepared to say Mass on February 7, 1972.
In September 2005, parishioners celebrated the 50th anniversary of the church with a variety of community events. The jubilee year began with a kick-off barbeque, a walking pilgrimage from neighboring St. Catherine of Sienna Church in Reseda, a Strawberry Festival and a black-tie dinner attended by old and new parishioners. To highlight the event, Cardinal Roger Mahoney celebrated special jubilee mass, followed by an open house and reception. Former pastors, priests, teachers and administrators were invited to participate in the liturgy.
Father Patrick McGoldrick, circa 1955-1965
First Construction 1955-1965
Father Patrick McGoldrick circa 1955-1965
First Mass at the Guest House circa 1955-1965