Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, San Diego, CA
OLR Pastoral Center
1629 Columbia Street
San Diego CA 92101
A Brief History of the Church
The fact that OLR is an Italian National Parish reflects the specific needs of its origin when San Diego was still part of the Diocese of Los Angeles and Italian immigration was still high. In 1921, the Cardinal of Los Angeles entrusted the Italian colony of San Diego to Fr. Sylvester Rabagliati, a Salesian Father, a traveling missionary for the Italian-American population of the west coast who was born in Italy and ordained in Bogota, Columbia. Fr. Rabagliati spent the first two years collecting funds for the new Church and on August 17, 1923, he started the building. On the following Christmas, he was able to celebrate Mass in the unfinished Church.
The Most Rev. John J. Cantwell, Bishop of Los Angeles, consecrated the new Church on November 15, 1925. The Italian immigrants found in their Church a place of faith, culture, unity, and a home away from home. Fr. Rabagliati returned to Italy in 1935 because of poor health and Fr. Vito Pilolla, an Italian immigrant, became the new pastor. OLR was the center of San Diego's "Little Italy", a population of fishermen mostly from Genoa, Italy and Sicily mixed with some Portuguese families. Fr. Pilolla was able to pay the debt of the Church through the generosity of the fishermen who pledged a percentage of their income from the tuna-fishing trips. The Parish Hall was built next to the Church and was inaugurated in 1939.
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