Dominguez Seminary Celebrates 100th Year
With Centenary Alumni Reunion in August

The Claretians and their seminary alumni will celebrate the founding of Dominguez Seminary with a special Centenary Reunion on Saturday, Aug. 24.

Members of the pioneering Dominguez Family gave 17 acres and historic rancho adobe to the Claretians in 1924. Dominguez was the Claretians’ first seminary in the United States, forerunner to St. Jude’s, Claretville, ClaretKnoll, and even the adjacent Del Amo Seminary. The Claretians had come to Los Angeles in 1907 and ministered to members of  the Dominguez family, prominent Catholics and civic leaders. Their rancho was the first Spanish land grant in California, a gift from the King of Spain to a retiring solider who had accompanied Fr. Serra in creating the missions. The land grant, known as Rancho San Pedro, encompassed the southwestern corner of Los Angeles County, some 75,000 acres.
Seminary classes immediately began in the family adobe with the adjacent two-story seminary building built in1927. The property has served as major seminary, minor seminary and novitiate over the years. In the ‘90s, the purpose changed to serve as the retirement center for the Claretians.

The Claretian Alumni Association, anticipating the anniversary, undertook a capital campaign to raise funds to modernize the seminary, the aim being to make it safe and comfortable for retirees. More than $450,000 in gifts has been raised to date.  Studies undertaken by the alumni show the building needing about $1 million in modernizations for heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical. Initial engineering studies assured the building was sturdy enough for earthquakes and definitely worth investing in.
In years before the campaign, the alumni have raised funds to air-condition the dining and community rooms, built a gazebo, repaired a broken sewer line running under the building, and created restrooms in the Upper Garden (old pool area).
“We are extremely appreciative for all of that the Claretians gave us,” said John Crowe, Dominguez Class of 1964 and alumni president. “The residents of Dominguez today are our teachers, our mentors and increasingly our classmates. We are just trying to pay back.” The motto of the association is, “Helping our Claretian priests and brothers.”
While alumni have gathered for reunions at Dominguez for more than 40 years, the  August Centenary Reunion will be a special celebration. Mass in the Chapel will start the day. A short presentation by the Dominguez Rancho Museum will follow. Grilled BBQ lunch and fellowship will follow at the Upper Garden. Attendees will be entertained by a live band featuring Songs of the 50s and ‘60s.  Winners for the Dominguez Seminary Alumni Raffle will be drawn in the afternoon. Graduates from other Claretian seminaries are welcome and are encouraged to join in.
Alumni membership is open to all who share a Claretian formation from  any Claretian seminary in the US. More information on the Centenary Reunion and Centenary Campaign can be obtained by writing [email protected]. The association website is www.ClaretianAlumni.com.

We're Almost to Our Goal!

Alumni with Matching Gifts Pass $400,000 Raised

    Claretian Alumni have responded most generously to the campaign to raise $500,000 to make Dominguez Seminary comfortable and safe for retired priests and brothers.
    As the centenary of the founding of Dominguez Seminary approaches in fall 2024, the campaign is moving towards a successful completion. Gifts will be used to improve and modernize the plumbing, electrical and heating-cooling for the classic two-story building.
    On Oct. 23, 1924, heirs of the Dominguez Family deeded over the historic adobe and 17 acres to be used as a seminary. It was to put use immediately, with a new seminary building opened in 1927.
    “Our alumni are small in number, but they have shown an over-sized ability to help the retired Claretians,” said Bill Johnson’63, Alumni Association treasurer. (A list of donors to the campaign is on page 3 to page 5).
    Also helping achieve this success are friends of the Claretians who have matched alumni gifts to the campaign.     The campaign continues through the fall of 2024. More than $100,000 needs to be raised, so the Association invites and encourages continued help from alumni, widows, and friends, as we exceed our $500,000 goal. Checks should be made to “Claretian Missionaries” with the notation “Centenary Campaign” and sent to Dominguez Seminary, 18127 S. Alameda St, Rancho Dominguez, CA 90220.
    To support the campaign with a proposed plan of action, the Association requested the Congregation to commission an architectural-engineering review of the Seminary building. The architectural firm of Armet Davis Newlove Associates in Santa Monica that had done modernizations thirty years ago was engaged to supervise a series of new studies. Funds already raised by the campaign were used to support the studies, a total of $43,737 to date.
    Seismic Study – Is the building sound and worth modernizing? Is modernzing the building a wise investment? These are the two immediate questions potential donors asked. The firm evaluated the building and found it up to code, with no major work recommended. Good to go!
    Heating, Cooling and Air-conditioning – Dominguez was built in the 1920s for young men leading a Spartan lifestyle. No air-conditioning, of course, basic plumbing, and limited heating (it’s California!). Improvements over the years have been directed fixes. Resident rooms had individual AC units installed. Financed by alumni, cooling was added to the dining rooms and the community room. Engineers found a general stagnation and poor air flow throughout the building. The multiple systems, installed over 40 years, are inefficient, not within code, and operating beyond their expected lifetimes. They recommended a move from gas wall heaters and forced air heaters to electric heat pumps to cool and heat the entire building, including the Chapel and other rooms not receiving service.
    Electrical – Demand on the electricity has obviously increased since the 1920s. The supply system was found inadequate for current and future needs. The main panel is in bad condition and needs to be replaced. Wiring, cabling and fluorescent lighting will be updated and replaced with LED fixtures. Security lighting will be improved within the building. A perimeter plan will increase programmable lighting on the property. Solar panels will be explored. Engineers recommend at least two electrical vehicle charging stations as part of the plan to equip the building for the next 20-plus years.
    Plumbing – Corroding cast iron pipes carrying waste water will be replaced throughout the building. New circulating pumps for the hot water system are needed. Modernization of the individual resident bathrooms will be accomplished, with all converted to handicapped usage.
    Roof – A study examined the roof and gutters, and found them it in good condition after some minor improvements were made.
    Toxics – A study of asbestos and lead paint in the building was done and there is no need for any removal. No hazardous materials were found on the property
    Mobility – An elevator was installed 30 years ago and will need replacement as part of the modernization plan. The building has many large, wooden doors. Alumni have installed electronic openers, allowing those with walkers or using canes to better move about the building.
    Expansion – The architects have envisioned a reconfiguration of the interior to provide two more resident rooms and an expansion of community space, creating a balcony patio on the south-facing side of the building.