It’s that exciting time of year again when the new Parish Council members are installed. Along with Kelly Brooks, I am honored and thrilled to lead the council for the current session! We thank all those who have served on the council over the past session and especially extend gratitude to Peter Heller, past chair, for his ongoing advice and guidance. We also offer a big Welcome to the new and continuing members on the council this term. Click on the “Council Members” tab below to see all of the current Council members.
What does the Parish Council do?
The Parish Council is an advisory leadership body, guided by the Holy Spirit and the Gospel, that assists the Pastor and the Parish Staff in discerning the needs of the Parish and, by recommending strategic goals and priorities, guides the Parish in fulfilling its mission as a Christian community.
A big part of fulfilling this mission is our listening so we can understand the needs and concerns of our parish members. To that end, we invite you to get to know the council members, learn more about St. Monica, and to voice your ideas and thoughts. One way to do this is by attending “Coffee with Council'' which is held on the first Sunday of each month after the 7:30 am and 9:30 am Masses. Just look for the sign or find anyone wearing their parish council badge and introduce yourself! Feel free to come by and just say hello!
The council would also like to make it easier for parishioners to discover, engage, and become involved in meaningful ways. To that end, Christine Gerety and Dominik Gnirs have respectively launched two new programs.
Navigators - Launching soon, this program assists individuals in identifying parish ministries and opportunities that are best suited to their talents.
Called and Gifted - This program helps individuals identify their charisms (gifts of the Holy Spirit) and how to best apply these through service to others.
We invite you to learn more about these ministries and explore the best opportunities for you at St. Monica! For a full list of all the ministries at St. Monica, click the “Ministry Councils” tab below.
I’m looking forward to the journey ahead and growing together in faith and community with all of you. This past November, my wife Lisa and I were grateful to be a part of the Holy Land journey, led by Msgr. Torgerson, Patricia Garcia and Merrick Siebenaler. We, along with over 50 other pilgrims, walked through the footsteps of our Lord. It’s a trip that really makes the humanity of Jesus jump out and puts us in a place of humility, love, and friendship. Most importantly, the trip set us on fire to do Christ’s work, and I’m excited to bring that passion and zeal back to St. Monica in fulfilling our commissioned service through the Parish Council.
I invite you to share your thoughts, concerns, questions, and ideas with us. We have a dedicated email address which is continually monitored: - as well as a telephone contact (310) 566-1522 to leave a voicemail.
We thank you for your support and prayers.
Peace and God Bless,
St. Monica Parish Council Chairperson
The Parish Council advises the Pastor on a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, developing a Pastoral Plan; providing feedback on ministry outreach; and shaping our response to public health crises. Effectively, the council acts as additional eyes, ears, and mouth of the Pastor.
Our Parish Council has been in place since 2000 and is led by our pastor, Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, Chairperson Roland Labana, Vice chairperson Kelly Brooks, Director of Administration Felipe Sanchez, Director of Development & Strategic Communications Merrick Siebenaler, along with a maximum of two representatives for each of the six Ministry Councils, and four at-large members appointed by the pastor. Click the “Council Members” tab below to see all of the council members.
The Council’s deliberative process is guided by a Covenant Book that sets out its role as threefold: to investigate, ponder, and make recommendations on Parish matters. We meet bi-monthly, but will engage on urgent issues in between regular meetings as necessary.
The Council aims to reflect the diversity of voices in our Community, and its members are always open to feedback, ideas, and questions.
To reach the current Chair of our Parish Council, Roland Labana, contact [email protected] or call (310) 566-1522 to leave a voicemail. Depending upon the nature of your query, you may be connected with a specific Council member who may introduce your concern at a future meeting or discuss it with the Pastor directly.
Roland Joined St. Monica about six years ago after relocating from Chicago. His first experience was a powerful one through the Bereavement Ministry. He has served on Hospitality, Cornerstone, Parish Council and other ministries. He co-led the 2018 Men's Cornerstone retreat and is currently its core team ministry leader. After retiring from a career in technology and holding senior positions at Motorola, Google and Snap Inc., Roland was looking for ways to give back. He found a perfect match in teaching Enginering part time at St. Monica Prep where he is currently enjoying this work! Roland and his wife Lisa enjoy family, travelling, hiking, cooking, and music.
Kelly was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and attended University of San Diego. She is a CPA and for the past 10 years she has been the controller for a small agriculture company in Beverly Hills. She joined St. Monica in 2010. Her first Mass was on Father's Day, where Fr. Willy told a tear-jerking homily. Kelly jumped right in to getting involved in YMA and volunteered on Core Team and as an advisor for many years. She has also been a Eucharistic Minister and been a member of the Community Life Council. This is Kelly's 2nd year on the Parish Council. She looks forward to getting married at St. Monica by Monsignor Torgerson in 2023 and help lead the First 5 ministry with her fiance, Chris. Kelly loves being a part of the St. Monica community and all the wonderful friends she has met here through the years. She enjoys traveling, weekends away at her home in Big Bear Lake, spending time with family, friends, and her Goldendoodle, Melvin, and beer tasting wherever she goes.
This is Jakub’s second year as an at-large member of the Parish Council. He hails from the Czech Republic and moved to California for his doctoral studies. He now works as a research professor at USC, where his focus is on the affordability of care and on innovative therapies. Jakub plays the violin in two orchestras and since joining the parish in 2014, he has regularly played the violin during our Sunday Masses. Aside from the Music Ministry, he is on the core team of the Holy Cross Africa Ministry, focusing on education, youth, and medical initiatives supporting our Sister Parish in Dandora, Kenya.
Kevin was born and raised in Chicago, and has been part of the St. Monica Community for the past 6 years. When he moved here, he struggled to find a meaningful church but, thankfully, one of his college friends invited him to the 5:30 p.m. Sunday Mass. He never expected that the invitation would eventually result in finding a family. It took him a few years before getting seriously involved in Ministry, but once engaged, he quickly jumped into serving on the Thanksgiving Dinner and Boutique Committee, Holy Cross Africa Ministry & YMA. Kevin currently works in marketing at Game Show Network.
Brianna is a nurse practitioner at UCLA Hospital. In her free time, she enjoys chasing waterfalls and exploring nature. She’s been at St. Monica for 6 years and was introduced by an acquaintance, a potential roommate, who loved the music and environment at St. Monica. It didn’t take long for Brianna to quickly became actively involved at St Monica, especially with YMA. Over the years, Brianna has gained lifelong friends and has experienced a shift in her faith life. She had a ‘fire’ lit within her to do more for those in need, whether it involved fighting for racial injustice for Black Lives, or helping the homeless through the Thanksgiving Boutique.
Dr. Mike Gruning and his wife, Susan, started attending St. Monica 31years ago, but he did not become involved until he participated in the Cornerstone Retreat in 2017. Mike became Lay Director for the Retreat in 2018 and this year managed the cooking and all of the men’s meals. He also learned about Fishers of Men in 2017 and has been a weekly participant since that time. Mike became a CSAP Minister (Communion Service in Absence of a Priest) last year, assisting at Berkeley East, until the pandemic hit. Mike was asked to be part of the Admin Council and joined Parish Council in 2019.
Katie was born and raised in Los Angeles and an alumnus of Loyola Marymount University. Over the last 16 years, Katie has worked at Loyola High School in the Advancement Office as an administrative assistant. She joined St. Monica in 2013 and after attending several YMA events, decided she wanted to become more active with the young adults ministry, and joined the core team as a co-chair for the Peace & Justice events. This will be her second year on Parish Council. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, dancing and reading.
Maria Lingbanan has been a St. Monica parishioner and volunteer for various ministries since 2017. Some include Holy Cross Africa Ministry (HCAM), YMA Peace & Justice Coordinator, Choir, The Last Days production cast member, Teen Confirmation and RCIA team member. Also a professional actor (SAG-AFTRA, AEA), Maria is expanding her vocation to teaching at the postsecondary level, hoping to use her God-given talents to help create a more loving world through storytelling and building empathy. After completing her Theatre masters program at Regent University, she is continuing her studies by obtaining an MFA in Performance Pedagogy at Loyola Marymount University. Her graduate work explores the intersection between the art of Acting and tenets of Ignatian Spirituality, revealing theatre's transformative power as a bridge to faith and changing the world.
Mark first discovered St. Monica in 1997 when he attended Mass while in Santa Monica for work. Ten years later, he joined St. Monica the day after he moved to California from Dallas, Texas. After his first Mass as an official parishioner, Mark attended his first event for the GLO LGBT Ministry and immediately became an active participant in the Ministry. He officially served on the GLO core team from 2015 through 2021. Mark has worked in marketing and advertising in a career that spans over 30 years. He’s been happy to use his professional skills while he served on the GLO core team and now on the Parish Council. This is Mark’s second year on the Parish Council. He is happy to have St. Monica as his spiritual home where he met his husband, Andrew, and where his two sons were baptized.
Originally from the East Coast, Mugs studied Philosophy at Boston College and has a B.A., Economics from Trinity University. Attending mass at St. Monica during an LA visit, she knew that she had found a home and joined the St. Monica community after moving to Santa Monica for a career in screenwriting. Mugs began her service at St. Monica as a volunteer in the Religious Education program, and for the past 17 years she’s been a member of the Lector Ministry. In addition to serving as lector at Daily and Sunday masses, Mugs assists in the training, scheduling and fellowship for the ministry. She continues to be an avid student of Ignatian Spirituality and fulfilled a bucket list item during a trip to Spain when she prayed in the Cave of Mancresa.
Abigail Rodgers has been a St. Monica parishioner and volunteer since 2016. She is a senior at Saint Monica Prepatory and is a part of the Campus Ministry and is the Commissioner of Religious Affairs on ASB. She plans on attending a Catholic University after she graduates this year. Through the parish, she volunteers as an Altar Server, sings in Choir, helps with Vacation Bible School over the summer, is a member of the Youth Ministry, and is a part of the Faith Formation Council. Abigail hopes to use her voice and leadership to lead the youth and help incorporate them into the Church more.
Jennie has been a member of St. Monica Parish for over 25 years. She first served on YMA's core team as a co-chair of their Peace and Justice Ministry. While serving for YMA, she met and married her husband Michael. All three of their children have been baptized at St.Monica and have attended St. Monica Preparatory School. She has continued to serve most years at the Thanksgiving Dinner and feels that this is one of the best outreach activities we do at St. Monica. As a triple degree Bruin, she currently has a tutoring business working with young learners in preschool through the 4th grade.
Peter has been a member of St. Monica for 24 years, having been transferred from the New York area to lead a team of British Airways managers in North America as Regional Director. He discovered our Community walking around town one Sunday afternoon; the energy from the Church was overwhelming, and he was sold. A graduate of Fordham University, Peter has run 15 marathons and travels extensively, only recently returning from Madagascar. He currently heads up the Parish Council and has had the privilege of being a part of several ministries over the years, including the Africa Ministry at St Monica, where he has led five groups of parishioners to Kenya, Stephen Ministry, Worship & Liturgy Ministry Council, Eucharistic Ministry, and GLO.
In general, the purpose of each Ministry Council is to:
Therefore, each of the over 100 ministries and activities in the St Monica Catholic Community is covered by a designated Ministry Council. Two representatives of each Ministry Council sit on the Parish Council. In this way, the needs, concerns, ideas, recommendations and voice of each ministry can be brought to the attention of the full Parish Council, the Pastor and the leadership team.
Below is a representative list of the Ministry Councils, their Staff Advisors, Council Reps, and some of their Ministries.
Staff Advisor: (Open)
Parish Council Representatives: Mugs Cahill
Hospitality, Lectors, Eucharistic Ministry, Sacristans, Altar Servers, General Liturgy Committee, First Friday Adoration, Funeral, Art & Environment, 5:30 Vigil Liturgy Team, 5:30 Sunday Liturgy Team, Liturgical Dance, Sacramental Prep (Marriage Information Nights, Infant Baptism Prep), Special Events (Seder Dinner, Simbang Gabi).
Staff Advisor: Felipe Sanchez
Parish Council Representative: Michael Gruning
Administration Ministries, Holy Grounds, Strategic Planning (Five-year Plans), Human Resources, Leadership Development.
Staff Advisors: Christine Gerety
Parish Council Representative: (Open)
Pastoral Care: Active duty prayer, Always Beginning, Bereavement Ministry, Health Ministry, Sick Ministry, Phoenix Ministry, Stephen Ministry, Unemployed Together
Spirituality Center: Giving the Exercises, Monthly Spiritual Dir., Spiritual Exercises
Engagement: Navigators, Called & Gifted support
Staff Advisors: Delis Alejandro
Parish Council Representative: Katherine Harding
Justice and Peace Ministries: Black Lives Matter Too, Catholic Social Teaching, Green Team, Habitat for Humanity, Incarcerated Ministry, Holiday Outreach, Holy Cross Africa, Hope at the Door, Loaves and Fishes, Thanksgiving Dinner, Homelessness, Welcome MIgrants, Plus Archdiocesan orgs
Staff Advisors: Delis Alejandro
Parish Council Representatives: Mark Yee
Young Ministering Adults (YMA), Theology on Tap, Vespers, Retreats, Thanksgiving Dinner and Clothing Boutique, Film Club, Gay and Lesbian Outreach (GLO), Parish-wide Events (Pancake Breakfast, St Patrick’s Day Party, All-Parish Movie Night, Parish Picnic / Feast Day Events,Lenten Sunday Night Soup Suppers), Primetime, Boutique, Thirty-Five Through Forties (TTF).
Staff Advisors: Suzette Sornborger & (Open)
Parish Council Representative: Abigail Rodgers, Maria Lingbanan
RCIA, Men’s Cornerstone, Women’s Cornerstone, Confirmation Prep, First Eucharist Prep, Early Childhood, Religious Education Grades 1-8, Children’s Mass / Children’s Liturgy of the Word, Vacation Bible School, Voices of Faith (Catholic Conversations, Parish Missions, JimFinley meditation events), Small Groups (Advent, Lent, Thomas Merton, Legion of Mary,Christian Meditation), Fishers of Men, Women on the Journey, Scripture Encounter, Bridges of Faith.