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January 24
1888 - Acton post office established; Richard E. Nickel, postmaster [story]

Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills will celebrate a new chapel with a high Mass honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 12 noon, as the hospital’s fundraising effort to complete the chapel continues.

Pastor Emeritus Monsignor Peter Amy of Saint Didacus Church will preside, and members of all faiths are invited and welcome to attend the dedication.

“While the chapel is a Catholic worship center and Masses will be offered there, Providence Holy Cross believes faith plays a powerful role in healing and will open the chapel to all faiths,” said Brian Thorne, the Providence Holy Cross Foundation’s executive director, who added that more than 11 percent of the not-for-profit Medical Center’s patients live in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“We wanted to make (the chapel) a place where all people could feel a connection with the spiritual,” said Martha Aszkenazy, co-chair of the foundation’s fundraising committee for the chapel. “In the hospital, we celebrate happy times and we celebrate sad times, so we wanted to make sure that we give people a space that was sacred and a place they could call their own.”

“We call it ‘the emergency room for our patients’ souls,” said Azskenazy’s co-chair Maria Townsend, also the hospital foundation’s business and community development manager for the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys.

The chapel and Wednesday’s Mass honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. “We chose her to reflect the culture of our community in the Northeast (San Fernando) Valley,” Townsend said.

Providence Holy Cross’s new chapel has a stone facade and vertical rectangular windows (foreground). HMC Architects designed the hospital, which was constructed by Swinerton Builders.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of many Latinos and a lot of people from all over,” Aszkenazy said. “She has a very interesting history. You see her (image) on mugs, on calendars, stickers on people’s cars, on everything. It keeps you safe, makes you feel good.”

The chapel’s centerpiece, an original painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe by renowned “Guadalupano” or sacred artist and local resident Lalo Garcia, is already in place.

“We commissioned Lalo to do this painting, and it’s non-traditional, contemporary and gotten a lot of positive response,” Aszkenazy said.

Art, especially sacred art, is a life-long passion for Garcia, born 37 years ago in La Cieneguita, in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. He has lived in the San Fernando Valley since he was 13, , and has been a principal artist and consultant for a variety of cultural arts and events throughout Southern California, according to his website.

Garcia’s works reflect a love of and respect for his native culture, and a desire to preserve and share it. His pieces are permanently on view in sacred spaces throughout Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States. In L.A., he designed the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and more of his art is on display in galleries and museums throughout the U.S., Mexico and Spain.

Providence Holy Cross recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a $180 million expansion that included new patient rooms and support facilities for 138 new beds, bringing the hospital’s total to 377 beds. Ground-breaking for the project was in May 2008 and the new hospital opened for its first new patient in July 2011.

But by the end of the main project, funds to complete the chapel build-out were not available, Aszkenazy said.

So far, along with the centerpiece painting, the roughly 1,600-square-foot chapel is carpeted and has a couple dozen chairs set up in rows. but Aszkenazy said there are several more pieces needed to complete the interior and exterior plan.

“There’s a skylight that goes over the main painting, the 14 Stations of the Cross, the symbols of the different religions that will go in the chapel as well, stained glass elements, and a number of other furnishings,” she said. “Outside, we’d like to have a water feature.”

“We need to raise about $250,000 to complete outfitting the chapel,” she said.

So far they have raised $89,250, according to Thorne. “Providence Holy Cross invites the community at large to join our family and follow our core value of compassion and become a part of this special cause,” he said.

“We’re doing this by raising a little money at a time,” Aszkenazy said. “We have a Donor Wall where you can buy a tile designed by Lalo Garcia that complements his main painting, and you can put the name of your dearly departed on the tile or dedicate it honor of somebody who is living.”

On the Donor Wall, the contributor’s or contributor’s loved one’s name will be etched on a 4”x4” tile for $1,500, or, for a larger gift of $5,000, on a 6”x6” tile depicting a rose. Those can be paid for over a three-year or five-year period, Thorne said.

“When all the pieces come together, they will form what’s called in Spanish an ‘Ojo de Dios,’ which is an eye of God,” Aszkenazy said. “The mural is going to be very, very pretty.”

Townsend said the fundraising campaign also includes less expensive ways for people to help get the chapel finished. Donors at the $200 level will receive a 12”x24″ Giclee print of Garcia’s painting on canvas, and those who contribute $100 will receive a 12″x24″ poster of the painting signed by the artist.

“Our chapel is a sacred space of comfort dedicated to families of all faiths to meditate and pray,” Townsend said. “The greatest joy for me is to see the many families, employees, visitors and patients nurture their own faith in our chapel, for it is our faith that carries us through our journey of life.”

Find the Medical Center and chapel at 15031 Rinaldi St. in Mission Hills, Calif., 91346.

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