"Faith in Alhambra" is a snapshot of the diverse range of churches in the city.
With more than 1400 registered families, St. Therese Catholic Church is thriving with a very diverse congregation. But the only service other than in English is in Latin. As a deacon of the church, Joseph Mizerski, “Deacon Joe,” and his wife Lorraine have served at St. Therese Catholic Church for the past 11 years. Before that, they'd faithfully attended the church for decades—Joe has been with St. Therese for 46 years, and Lorraine for 70. They spoke with the Alhambra Source about why they have services is Latin, and why there are monks instead of priests.
You have witnessed some real changes in this church and community over the years. Can you describe some of those changes?
This used to be the neighborhood church; people would walk to this church and send their kids to school here too. Back then it was a mostly well-to-do Anglo congregation, but nowadays it’s diverse both socio-economically and ethnically–Anglo, Filipino, Chinese, Latino, Vietnamese. There’s been a recent influx of young families, some connected to the school, but it’s a good mix of generations. We have 1400 registered families, with a few thousand who attend our five Masses on the weekends.
However, unlike All Souls (on Main Street) which has a Spanish service and St. Thomas Aquinas (in Monterey Park) which has a Chinese service, all our services are in English, except with the one Latin service.
Yes, explain why you have a Latin service!
There are still some who are nostalgic for the past,* and so we still have a well-attended Latin Rite service where we attract people from all over our region, since we’re one of the few Catholic churches who still offer this.
*Vatican 2 in 1965 was the official endorsement from the Roman Catholic Church that services could be done in the vernacular instead of Latin. The vernacular is the overwhelming practice now within the Roman Catholic Church.
Is there a difference of having monks instead of regular priests at St. Therese?
The monks are contemplatives, so there are regular times when they retreat and meditate as part of their order. They always wear their brown monastic robes too. Because they take a vow of poverty, they cannot own anything, unlike regular priests. So if they have a car, it’s a car that belongs to their community rather than the individual monk. Stipends or honorariums they receive for services also go back to the community purse.