Reverend Monsignor Timothy Nichols poses for a portrait inside the recently re-built St. John Vianney Church in Hacienda Heights.

Rev. Msgr. Timothy Nichols

The Parish Rebuilder

Around six decades ago, the property where St. John Vianney Catholic Church now sits was a field where ranchers raised cattle and grew avocadoes and citrus fruits. By 1960, the forces of development were well underway in the area, and the property was purchased by the Los Angeles Archdiocese. “When I came in 2002, we had the original traditional church which was very beautiful, with rich wood and a sort of Mission look to it,” says Father Nichols. But on the evening of April 16, 2011, an arsonist would set fire to the building; within 10 minutes, all of it was destroyed. People could see the flames rising from miles away, and they came from throughout the Los Angeles area to gather in the church parking lot as firefighters tried to control the fire. “We literally cried and grieved the loss of this building for months afterwards,” says Nichols, who remembers feeling helpless about how to proceed after the church had been burnt to the ground. Over the next two years, parishioners donated as little as $1 or $5 to help rebuild the church. Today, a new, modern building stands in the place where the Mission-style church once was. On one side of the pews is a plaque thanking the many hundreds of donations that made its rebuilding possible.