The first church building was a simple wooden structure on the corner of G Street and Neptune Avenue, and was constructed by soldiers of the 1st California Infantry Regiment, U.S.V, stationed at nearby Drum Barracks. The boundaries of the parish included all of what is now the southern part of Los Angeles County, from present-day Compton south to the ocean, and from Redondo Beach to Orange County. The first pastor of the parish was Fr. Antonio Ubach, O.F.M., the last of the Franciscan Padres in the line of Blessed Junipero Serra, O.F.M., the great Apostle of California. Around the end of the nineteenth century the name of the parish was changed to Saints Peter and Paul.
In less than 60 years the church was no longer big enough to house the growing congregation. Father Bernardino J. Schiaparelli, who became pastor in 1922, oversaw the design and construction of the present church on the corner of Opp Street and Lagoon Avenue.
Unfortunately before work on the church had been completed, the Depression struck and some of the plans for finishing the interior of the church had to be postponed indefinitely. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated in the new church for the first time by Fr. Schiaparelli on Christmas Eve in 1930, and the church was formally dedicated on Sunday, March 15, 1931, with Bishop John J. Cantwell officiating.
In 1943 Father John V. Hegarty became pastor. He established a school on the parish grounds and invited Sisters from the Congregation of St. Francis of Penance and Charity to teach there. Father John Dunne was appointed pastor in 1945 and built a new parish school at the present location on Bay View Avenue. He invited the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny to staff the school and built a convent for them opposite the church on Lagoon Avenue.
Monsignor John Brennan became pastor in 1960 and during his pastorate SS. Peter and Paul Parish celebrated its centenary with a Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving on April 24, 1966, with His Eminence James Francis Cardinal McIntyre presiding. Father Santiago Tamayo became pastor following Monsignor Brennan’s death in 1983. The following year Monsignor Clement Morian was appointed pastor.
With the death of Monsignor Morian in 1993, Father G. Peter Irving III became pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Church. Father Roberto L. Pirrone became associate pastor in July 1999. Fr. Irving and Fr. Pirrone did much to restore and beautify the parish church and to deepen the spiritual life of the parish.
During the Great Jubilee Year 2000, Cardinal Roger Mahony designated SS. Peter and Paul Church as one of only 20 pilgrimage churches in the Archdiocese. On May 13, 2004 Fr. Irving inaugurated the new Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel with the enthusiastic support of the parishioners. Under the leadership of Fr. Irving the parish also built the Eugene Sullivan Parish Hall and constructed the Pope John Paul II Memorial Garden, which includes a statue of the late Pope.
On July 1, 2006, upon the expiration of Fr. Irving’s term as pastor, Cardinal Mahony placed the parish under the care of the Norbertine Fathers of Saint Michael’s Abbey in Silverado. Fr. Raymond Perez, O. Praem. became its first Norbertine pastor.
In July of 2015, the arrival of our new and present pastor Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. Currently serving along side Fr. Hildebrand at SS. Peter and Paul Parish are Fr. Michael Perea, O. Praem, Fr. Charbel Grbavac, O. Praem, Fr. Arian Sanchez, O. Praem. and Fr. David Gonzalez, O. Praem.
Saint Peter’s Catholic Church was founded in the small town of Wilmington, California in 1865 by Bishop Thaddeus Amat, C.M., Bishop of the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles. It was the twentieth year of the reign of Blessed Pope Pius IX. That year also saw the end of the Civil War and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.