Welcome to St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, served by the Augustinian Fathers. We are located at 185 St. Thomas Dr. Ojai, CA 93023.
History of our Parish
Just thirty years after Wheeler Bloomberg marked the opening of his famous two-story hotel and birthed of what is now downtown Ojai, this newest settlement in Ventura County was judged to have a sufficient population of Catholics to warrant mission status. Father Henry O'Reilly of Mission San Buenaventura was first to travel to Ojai to celebrate mass. The following year, 1904, Father Gerald Gay of St. Sebastian's Parish in Santa Paula inherited the responsibility for the Catholic faithful of the Ojai Valley. It was Fr. Gay's successor Father Thomas King, who built the first Catholic church in the valley on land donated by Thomas Clark.
This wooden structure, located on the corner of Blanche Street and Ojai Avenue in was then Nordhoff, served 15 families as well as a number of seasonal migrant workers. Fathers Henry O'Reilly, Eugene Sugranes, and John O'brien continued as part-time pastors until the appointment of Father Emil Ylla as the first full-time pastor in 1914.
The great fire of 1917 burned down the wooden church and adjacent rectory as well as a good portion of the village of Nordhoff. For a year and a half the parish celebrated Mass at the Isis Theater located across the street from the church property. Edward Drummond Libbey, the Toledo financier of Libbey Glass fame, approached Father Ylla ad offered his help in rebuilding the church. Libbey hired architects Frank Mead and Richard Requa to design a church a rectory in the Mission Revival style. It was the parishioners themselves who raised the money for the building, although Libbey later financed the landscaping as well as the wall surrounding the structure. The church was completed in 1918 and was dedicated on February 23, 1919 by the Most Reverend John J. Cantwell, Bishop of Los Angeles. It was this time the St. Thomas Aquinas Chuch was designated as an independent parish.
The Reverend Fathers Killian, Verhallen, and Moclair succeeded in Father Ylla, shepherding the flock until 1924 when the parish of St. Thomas Aquinas was canonically entrusted to the Augustinian order as part of their agreement with the Diocese of Los Angeles and San Diego to found a Catholic boarding school for boys. Villanova Preparatory School, which admitted students this same year, became the center of parish activities. Until 1944, the pastor of the church served as headmaster of the school as well.
In 1951, under the leadership of Father Phillip Holland, O.S.A., the rectory/parish hall was built; St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary School was constructed in 1955; the convent to the house the Sisters of Bethany was added in 1958. The center of church activities thus shifted from Villanova to downtown Ojai.
By the 1950's, the Catholic population in the Valley (700 families) had outgrown the little church. In 1958, therefore, Father Holland purchased ten acres of land in nearby Meiners Oaks on which to build a larger church. His successor, John F. Blethen, O.S.A. assumed responsibility for the building program. Ground was broken in 1962 and the new church, with a seating capacity of 700, was dedicated on August 25, 1963.
The little church that had served the Catholic community of Ojai so well for half a century was known as St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel and remained so for thirty years until it was sold to the City of Ojai in October 1992. The final mass was celebrated in December the same year. Today the old chapel now houses the Ojai Valley Museum, Ojai Valley Historical Society, and the Ojai Valley Museum Research Library.
Today our congregation has grown to more than 960 families under the leadership of our Pastor, Rev. Thomas Verber, O.S.A. and Associate Pastor, Rev. Fernando Lopez-Castillo, O.S.A.
This year’s First Communicants will be touring the church tonight and will be learning about all the things inside a Catholic church!
Our hearts and prayers go out to our neighbors to the north in the Montecito and Carpinteria areas especially our brothers and sisters at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish who suffered the loss of a parishioner and still have parishioners missing at this time. We pray for all the beloved dead that they may rest in the loving embrace of our Father in heaven, for the safe recovery of all those still missing, and for strength and consolation for all those affected by these mud slides. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel & St. Barbara, pray for us!
Let us join our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and pray for his special intentions for January.
Pope Francis has released a video message of his prayer intention for January 2018, which is for "religious liberty in Asia".
Find out more here: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-01/pope-francis--prayer-intentions-for-january.html
Welcome! Please join us for Mass! For any questions please call the parish office at (805) 646-4338 or visit our website at www.stacojai.org
Friends, to celebrate Pope Francis' birthday today, my Word on Fire team has pulled together many of the resources we've produced over the years on Pope Francis, from his encyclicals and teachings to his strategies for evangelization.
It's a great website to send any friends who want to learn more about the Holy Father >> https://popefrancis.digital
Say a little prayer for our dear Holy Father, Pope Francis, today as he celebrates his 81st birthday! Happy Birthday Pope Francis! Ad multos annos!
We commend his soul into the loving arms of our Father in heaven. May God also be a source of consolation and strength for his family and friends that he leaves behind. God speed and rest in God’s peace, Cory Iverson.
We warmly wish our Jewish brothers and sisters, our elders brothers in the faith as the great St. John Paul II once said, peace and abundant blessings as they begin the celebration of Hanukkah tonight. Chag Sameach!
Today we celebrate our most Blessed Mother in her title as Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas! Our celebration began this morning with the traditional mañanitas and will conclude with a solemn procession at 6:30pm, a Bilingual Mass at 7:00pm, and a special reception in Aquinas Center immediately following the Mass! Please join us, all are welcome!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy!
Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints!
May our Ojai and Ventura County community be strengthened by the prayers of our brothers and sisters throughout the country who have been asked by their bishops to pray for us!
Please invade heaven with your prayers for us here in Ventura County, that the Lord our God will help quench this horrific fire and keep everyone safe especially our firefighters and first responders. Lord Jesus hear us! St. Florian , patron saint of firefighters pray for us!
Wishing everyone a blessed Advent season! May the Lord draw you to Himself even more closely this Advent!
Today marks the beginning of Advent. How much do you know about this liturgical time?
We normally don’t recommend movies, but we have to share this because it’s such a great film! It’s a funny and refreshing take on the great story of our Lord’s birth and it’s filled with beautiful lessons along the way.
Start a new holiday tradition with #TheStarMovie, now in theaters everywhere! bit.ly/TheStarTickets 🌟
NO MEMBERSHIPS, NO FEES! EWTN On Demand brings you over 12,000 videos of your favorite Catholic shows - from Mother Angelica Live to At Home with Jim and Joy, The Journey Home, and Fr. Spitzer's Universe! Plus, you can even watch in Spanish!
Whenever, wherever. Just go to ewtn.com/ondemand!
Remember these words from Pope Francis next time you get to Mass early! http://ow.ly/GrXG30gBADK
This video is too good to pass up... From today's General Audience, Pope Francis offers "tips" about Mass, including cell phone etiquette.
Read More: The Mass isn’t a show, says pope, chiding those who take cell phone pictures during liturgy http://bit.ly/aleteia_vidpopetips
Today, the Church celebrates All Souls Day, a day in which we remember our beloved dead and pray for their eternal rest in heaven. Please join us tonight at 7:00pm for a special bilingual Mass hosted by our wonderful Bereavement ministry. Everyone is invited to bring a flower up as the names of those we lost this year are read during the Mass.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them!
Happy All Saints Day! There will be a special bilingual Mass tonight at 7:00pm because today is a holy day of obligation. Please join us in this great celebration!
All the Saints in heaven pray for us!
Blessed be God, in His angels and in His saints!
More than one thousand people walked through downtown London praying the Rosary! Can you imagine?
This last weekend, our parish had the honor of being the first stop in Ventura County of the pilgrim images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego
After celebrating Mass in my chapel today, I thought I’d share with you some reflections on this 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the miracle of the sun in Fatima. It is also the last opportunity to receive the special indulgence of offering a special Marian prayer in front of an image of Our Lady of Fatima. Come pay a visit to our Lord and Lady today!
ncregister.com Let us heed Our Lady’s message, let us grant her requests, in order to hasten the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.
kofc.org Honoring Our Namesake
If you're a young adult in your 20s or early 30s, let Pope Francis know what you think. The Vatican online survey is a great way to share your thoughts, realities, and concerns with the Church. Check it out:
There’s a reason why in the her most recent apparitions, the Blessed Mother has asked us to pray the rosary everyday. It’s because it’s a very powerful prayer that will help us get close to her and our Lord Jesus! In this month of the Rosary, if you’re not already in the habit of doing so, pray the rosary daily or even weekly this month. You’ll be glad you did!
The Blessed Mother is back on the Memorial to the Unborn! A very big and heartfelt thank you to Cel and Larry Hickok for donating this beautiful statue and donating the funds to have it installed which one can see took some redesigning of the existing memorial. May our Lord reward you and yours with His tremendous blessings for your generosity!
In times like these when we see such a grave evil being done we often feel powerless against it. We often feel like our prayers are not enough, that we need to do more.
Our prayers are strong and we need to continue to storm heaven with them, asking God that His love may be a source of comfort, strength, and healing for those who were injured and for the families of those who were killed, and for the blessed repose of the souls of the innocent who lost their lives.
Let’s also take this opportunity to conquer this terrible evil with love. Let us love one another more generously and more deliberately today and everyday, to stand up to evil and to not let it consume us.
Deeply saddened to learn of the shooting in Las Vegas, Pope Francis sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy. He commends the efforts of the police and emergency service personnel, and offers the promise of his prayers for the injured and for all who have died, entrusting them to the merciful love of Almighty God.
On Saturday September 30th, the Santa Barbara Region will be having their annual Regional Congress. The great Bishop Barron will be there to offer Mass! Sign-up to attend today!
Today we celebrate and remember St. John Paul II's visit to THE Archdiocese of Los Angeles 30 years ago. Do you have any memories from his visit? #JP2inLA
Friends, here is my homily for this Sunday. Please listen and share! >> http://bit.ly/2h2gwxU
Friends, today our nation commemorates the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Let us ask Mary, the Queen of Peace, to help us be more dedicated to her Son’s Gospel of mercy and reconciliation.
Friends, on this magnificent feast of St. Augustine, here's a video I filmed on the very spot where Augustine was baptized in the year 387 by St. Ambrose of Milan. Please watch and share!
Today we remember in a special way Fr. Steven Ochoa, O.S.A. , our beloved former pastor, who died unexpectedly 5 years ago today. He will always be remembered as a unifier, a model of Christian servant leadership, and someone who especially lived out the Augustinian charism of community. Please say a little prayer for him today that he may be in the loving arms of God our Father in heaven with the all the angels and saints. Rest in peace, Fr. Steve. We miss you!
This weekend (August 26th & 27th) at all the Sunday liturgies, we will celebrating the feast of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Please join us!