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OJAI : Aquinas Church to Hold Special Mass

St. Thomas Aquinas Church will celebrate 75 years in the Ojai area this week with a special Mass and blessing by Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles.

Mahony will be the principal celebrant at a 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday at the church, located at California 33 and El Roblar Drive in Meiners Oaks, at the border of Ojai. Jan. 28 is the feast day for St. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th-Century church philosopher and theologian.

Accompanying Mahony will be The Most Rev. Thomas J. Curry, auxiliary bishop and episcopal vicar for the Santa Barbara region, and the Rev. Patrick J. Keane, pastor of the church.

Many other dignitaries and hundreds of parishioners are expected to fill the church for the Mass. In addition, the cardinal will bless the parish’s nearly finished multipurpose center, which is scheduled to open in the spring.

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Parishioner Gerry Roe said St. Thomas Aquinas Church was named an independent parish in 1919. Church members originally worshiped in a Mission Revival-style building in downtown Ojai designed by architects Frank Mead and Richard Requa.

The parish outgrew the downtown facility and moved to Meiners Oaks in 1963. The downtown chapel and adjoining parish hall were sold to the city of Ojai in 1992 and are being renovated for use by the Ojai Valley Historical Society and the Ojai Chamber of Commerce.

Church officials are eagerly awaiting the opening of the $1.2-million Aquinas Center, which will provide space for meetings, dinners, child care and church outreach programs, and will house a St. Vincent de Paul pantry for the needy, Keane said.

The center will also assist the church in its work with the Ojai Valley Family Shelter for housing the homeless.

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