St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church

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Coordinates: 34°03′32″N 118°28′28″W / 34.05889°N 118.47444°W / 34.05889; -118.47444

St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church (Brentwood, California).JPG
Location11967 Sunset Blvd., Brentwood, Los Angeles, California
CountryUnited States
DenominationRoman Catholic
StatusParish church
FoundedParish founded in 1946
DedicatedChurch building dedicated November 1947
Functional statusActive
Architectural typeMoorish
GroundbreakingFebruary 9, 1947
ArchdioceseLos Angeles
DivisionOur Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region
ArchbishopJosé Horacio Gomez
Bishop(s)Edward W. Clark
Priest(s)Fr. Ben Le (administrator)
Assistant priest(s)Fr. Donal Keohane
Pastor(s)Msgr. Lawrence O'Leary (pastor emeritus)

St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic church and parish in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region. The church is located on Sunset Boulevard in the affluent Brentwood section of Los Angeles, California.


The parish of St. Martin of Tours in Los Angeles was founded in 1946.[1] The land acquired for the construction of the church was formerly an orchard on the estate of actor Gary Cooper.[2] Ground was broken for the construction of the church on February 9, 1947, and the cost of the church was estimated at $150,000 with an additional $25,000 for furnishings.[3] The church was dedicated in November 1947.

The parish has been served by two pastors for most of its existence. Father Augustine C. Murray was the first pastor, serving in that capacity for 28 years from 1946-1974. Monsignor Lawrence O'Leary later served as pastor for 24 years from 1979-2003.[1]

In March 1949, the church was damaged in a fire set by an arsonist described by the Los Angeles Times as a "wild-eyed" and "crazed 25-year-old UCLA art student". After setting the church on fire in the early morning hours, the arsonist, dressed in a well-cut flannel suit, stood in the middle of the church parking lot screaming, "The church is afire. Let her burn. Let her burn." When the pastor and staff tried to extinguish the fire, the arsonist tried to block their passage, struck a staff member in the face, and threw a statue at the fire.[4] The fire caused $5,000 in damages, and the following day, Father Murray said Mass in the church and urged forgiveness for the young man who had set the fire: "Let us pray for the poor boy who didn't know what he was doing. Let us pray that Almighty God may give him back his health."[5]

In 1983, the parish built at parish center that is used for education, social functions, meetings and entertainment. The church was renovated in 1989.[1]

As of 2009, the parish was served by Father Ben Le, administrator, Monsignor Lawrence O'Leary, pastor emeritus, and Father Donal Keohane.[6]


The church building is designed in the Moorish style.[7]

St. Martin of Tours School[edit]

In 1954, St. Martin of Tours School was opened. It was operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet until 1979.[1]

In 1998, the school added a new wing, which included administration offices, a library, science lab and reading/math lab.[1]

Association with celebrities[edit]

Front entrance to St. Martin of Tours

The parish is located in an affluent section of Los Angeles that is the home of numerous celebrities and prominent business persons.

Movie and stage actor Frank Fay was one of the founding members of the parish, and Mass was celebrated in the pool house of Fay's estate before the completion of the church building in 1947.[1]

The church was built on a site adjacent to the estate of movie actor Gary Cooper. In 1979, the parish purchased Cooper estate. The house was used as a convent, and the grounds were used as a playground for the students at St. Martin of Tours School and for church parking. The house was sold in 1980 after the Sisters of St. Joseph ceased operating the school.[1]

In 1948, parishioners Frank Fay and Joe E. Brown began the tradition of an annual social event that was originally known as "Murray's Follies" and later became known as the "Leprechaun Ball."[8] The Leprechaun Ball is an ongoing tradition at the parish. Celebrities and parishioners who have assisted with the event over the years include Richard Egan, Edmond O'Brien, Maureen O'Hara, Donald O'Connor, Steve McQueen, Barron Hilton, Dennis Day, the Lennon Sisters, the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, and Pat O'Brien.[1][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

Over the years, St. Martin has been the site of many celebrity weddings, baptisms and funerals, including the following:

Mass schedule[edit]

Masses at St. Martin of Tours are in the English language. The regular weekend mass schedule is Saturdays at 5:30 p.m., and Sundays at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. Weekday mass is offered Monday through Saturday at 8:15 a.m.[29]


  1. ^ Jenner changed her name due to gender transition in 2015.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "St. Martin of Tours: About Us". St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
  2. ^ "St. Martin of Tours Church to Mark 40th Anniversary With Outdoor Mass". Los Angeles Times. 1986-10-05.
  3. ^ "Ground Broken for Church". Los Angeles Times. 1947-02-10.
  4. ^ "Priests Battle Student as Church Altar Burns". Los Angeles Times. 1949-05-22.
  5. ^ "BLAZE FAILS TO HALT WORSHIP: Priest Prays for Student Accused of Setting Fire to Church Altar". Los Angeles Times. 1949-05-23.
  6. ^ "St. Martin of Tours Staff Directory". St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
  7. ^ a b c "Churches of the Stars: St. Martin of Tours". Seeing Stars. Retrieved 2009-11-25.
  8. ^ "St. Martin of Tours: Leprechaun Ball". St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
  9. ^ JESSIE JEAN MARSH (1958-03-09). "Brentwood Church Members Will Dance Amid Shamrocks at Hilton". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ "Leprechaun Decor to Brighten Church Ball". Los Angeles Times. 1959-03-15.
  11. ^ "Leprechaun Ball Will Aid Parish". Los Angeles Times. 1961-03-12.
  12. ^ "Leprechaun Ball to Have Air of Ireland". Los Angeles Times. 1963-03-03.
  13. ^ "Leprechaun Ball Slated by Church". Los Angeles Times. 1965-03-11.
  14. ^ "Irish Motif to Pervade Church Ball". Los Angeles Times. 1969-03-06.
  15. ^ "Parish Will Mark 25th Birthday". Los Angeles Times. 1971-03-11.
  16. ^ "Leprechaun Ball to Aid School Fund". Los Angeles Times. 1972-03-16.
  17. ^ "Film Notables Attend James Gleason Rites". Los Angeles Times. 1959-04-16.
  18. ^ "Margaret O'Brien and Harold Allen Jr. Wed". Los Angeles Times. 1959-08-09.
  19. ^ "Gene Fowler Mass Today". Los Angeles Times. 1960-07-06.
  20. ^ "Funeral Mass Set for Pat O'Brien". Los Angeles Times. 1983-10-18.
  21. ^ "Actor Edmond O'Brien, 69, Dies; Won Oscar in 1954". Los Angeles Times. 1985-05-09.
  22. ^ Thackrey Jr., Ted (July 22, 1987). "Richard Egan, 65, Dies; Portrayed Rugged Heroes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 1987. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  23. ^ Bissinger, Buzz (June 25, 2015). "Caitlyn Jenner: The Full Story". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  24. ^ Newton, Jim; Hall, Carla (June 17, 1994). "Simpson's Ex-Wife and Her Friend Are Buried Mourning". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  25. ^ Adande, J. A. (August 22, 1998). "Others' Words Can't Do Justice". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  26. ^ a b Lobdell, William; McCartney, Anthony; Landsberg, Mitchell (August 10, 2002). "Thousands Turn Out to Pay Tribute to Voice of the Lakers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  27. ^ "Jane W. Wyatt". New Netherlands Project. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
  28. ^ Fergie and Josh Duhamel celebrate baby Axl's baptism
  29. ^ "St. Martin of Tours Home Page". St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Retrieved 2009-12-04.