In 1927 San Miguel Parish was established to meet the needs of the Spanish speaking community in the Watts section of Los Angeles. This Parish community was bordered on the south by 108th Street, on the north by 103rd Street, on the east by Weigand Avenue and on the west by Wilmington Avenue. The church, San Miguel, was named in gratitude to the Parish of Saint Michael in South Central Los Angeles, for their many years of strong spiritual ties and support. There were about 200 families in the Parish area at that time. In the winter of 1927 Father Joseph Cotta became the first priest at San Miguel. Father Joseph celebrated the midnight mass on Christmas Eve and prayed with the people that the future of this new parish would be filled with blessings and a continued enthusiasm to live the message of Jesus Christ.
For the first two years the new Parish was administered by priests from Mexico, who had come to California to escape the revolution. However, in July of 1929, a new page in the history of San Miguel began when the Augustinian Recollect Order sent Father Gabriel Perez to serve as pastor. In November of the same year, Father Nicholas Zabalza replaced Father Gabriel as pastor. It was under Father Zabalza’s leadership that the Parish rectory was built in 1930 to house the Augustinian Recollects who would continue to serve the Parish of San Miguel.
At the outset, the Parish community wanted a school to enhance not only the spiritual, but the intellectual development of the children as well. As the census shows there were more than four hundred school-aged children living in the community of Watts at that time. Eventually, in response to this need a convent was built for the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1954. The Sisters took up residence and worked faithfully and energetically in the religious instruction of the children and other apostolic works.
Father Damian Gabeo, who served as pastor in 1932, returned to San Miguel in 1963 to serve as pastor. He immediately focused on the need of a Parish school and rekindled the enthusiasm and hope of the unfulfilled dream of a school for the children in the community. There was a total community action plan to raise funds and purchase the property on 108th Street and Kalmia to build a new school. On September 6, 1966, San Miguel opened its parochial school. The enrollment consisted of 110 students in grades one through four. The Sisters of the Love of God were given charge of San Miguel School with Sister Faith Almeida as the first superior and principal and Father Damian Gabeo as the pastor of the Parish. By June of 1970, San Miguel School reached its expectations of having a complete eight-year curriculum.
Ms. Maryann Reynoso
2270 E. 108th St.