Christmas appropriate time to celebrate Alhambra as spiritual oasis in L.A. County

By Fr. Philip Sullivan, OCD, pastor of St. Therese Parish and School



Alhambra is a spiritual oasis in Los Angeles County. Did you know that it has been the home of the Cloistered Carmelite Nuns for nearly 100 years? Five members from their St. Louis community arrived in Los Angeles on April 19, 1913, to begin a new community. By 1923, they had built the Carmel of St. Teresa at the corner of Alhambra Road and Chapel Avenue. Did you also know that in 1923 the Carmelite Friars arrived here in Alhambra from Ireland and founded St. Therese Church in December of 1924? It is one of the first parishes in the world named in honor of the French Carmelite Nun,  St. Therese of Lisieux--also known as the "Little Flower."

Did you know that in 1927 Venerable Mother Luisita, fleeing the religious persecution in Mexico, came to Los Angeles and eventually built schools, hospitals, and orphanages? In 1941, four years after her death, her Order, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, fulfilled her dream of establishing a retreat house. It was built at 920 E. Alhambra Road and is called Sacred Heart Retreat House. In addition, Alhambra is also the home of the contemplative branch of St. Teresa of Calcutta's Order, the Missionaries of Charity! This spiritual oasis is one of the things that makes Alhambra such a unique place.

This year, Saint Therese Carmelite School, which opened its doors in September of 1926, celebrated 90 years of academic and spiritual excellence! Our school motto, "Become a Saint," was chosen as the Carmelite Friars are determined to help our families become saints for God. This is our battle cry to Heaven. Instead of teaching Common Core, which most schools are endorsing, we provide a classical curriculum that is authentically Catholic, orthodox, and trustworthy. Our school is a Carmelite School and, therefore, our children are exposed to the great variety of the many Carmelite saints. Each classroom is dedicated to a Carmelite Saint, such as the recently canonized St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, the Patron Saint of our fourth grade.

In addition to our classical curriculum and the exposure to the Carmelite Saints, Saint Therese Carmelite School offers the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori-based way of teaching the faith to young children. Other features that make us stand out: Our children formally begin learning Latin in the third grade; we provide a rigorous math program through Euclidean geometry; and we have a full-time Carmelite chaplain who ministers to the spiritual needs of the students. Every Tuesday morning, I teach the sacred art of iconography to the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders.  Home-schooled families are also welcome to enroll their children in elective classes. While the Carmelite Friars are committed to ongoing classroom instruction in various subjects, our beloved Carmelite Sisters also help teach Carmelite Spirituality once a month. 

Our vision is a long-term investment to provide academic excellence and trustworthy Catholic formation, as well as to promote holiness of life for the future of our society. Saint Therese Carmelite School may be a bit hidden and unnoticed — tucked away in a beautiful neighborhood in North Alhambra — but we are thriving! Thanks to the generosity of many, we were able to provide tuition assistance to 26% of our families this year. Large tasks become small when divided among many friends. Become a friend. Come visit us. We're located at the corner of Alhambra Road and Vega Street. You may also learn more about our school by contacting our Principal, Alma Cornejo, by phone at 626-289-3364, ext. 661, or by e-mail at MrsCornejo@aol.com.

Merry Christmas!


St. Therese ChurchCarmelite Nunsreligious persecutionclassical curriculum

Jan 2022


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