Greetings fellow parishioners! This month, we have an exciting opportunity for you to get to know another of our esteemed council members, Maria Lingbanan.
"What Calls Me To Serve? Parish Council Edition
Never did I ever expect to be part of a parish council. And, looking back at my journey at St. Monica, it still surprises me. How did I get here?
When I finally decided to return to the Church after a long hiatus, I searched the LA Archdiocese to find a thriving parish. Ultimately, I chose St. Monica, where Monsignor's zealous homilies drew me in, and the parish offered endless opportunities to provide spiritual growth and service opportunities. However, I was initially fine being a parishioner lost in the enormous congregation. Or, so I tried to convince myself. Deep down, I felt overwhelmed and intimidated by the large unfamiliar crowds. Moreover, I figured that cliques were already set in stone, and maybe, I just wouldn't fit in here.
Slowly but surely, after a couple years, I felt called by an opportunity to get involved with the church community. A new theatrical production of the annual passion play was in the works, and I decided to audition. Not only did I book the role of Mary Magdalene, but more importantly, I built meaningful relationships with the rest of the cast, who gave me my first genuine taste of the motto, "All are welcome." Consequently, my spiritual and community life snowballed as I longed for a deeper relationship with God. Through various ministries, pilgrimages, retreats, and service projects, St. Monica has become more than a place of worship and volunteering for me. It is Home.
Through my work in parish council, I hope to instill that same genuine welcoming fervor I experienced years ago. By listening to others and providing a voice to those who feel unheard, I hope that more people will experience God through the Spirit that lives within all of us." - Maria Lingbanan
The Parish Council will now be publishing meeting notes on the St. Monica website. This allows you to stay informed about the latest happenings and initiatives. Click the Notes tab to see the latest notes.
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 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 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. In November of 2022, a group of over 50 pilgrims journeyed through the Holy Land. The trip was led by Msgr. Torgerson, Patricia Garcia and Merrick Siebenaler. It’s a trip that really makes the humanity of Jesus jump out and puts us in a place of humility, love, and friendship. It's disappointing that we had to postpone this year's trip due to the conflict. My hope is that many others will be able to experience this spiritual journey as we pray for peace in the Holy Land.
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 Lill (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 parishcouncil@stmonica 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.
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.
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.
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.
This is James's first year on the Parish Council. James has been a member of St. Monica Church for over 25 years. He is originally from Pacific Grove, CA and graduated with a degree in Theology from Georgetown University. At St. Monica's, James is on the core team of the Men’s Cornerstone Ministry, serves annually with his wife and daughter at the Thanksgiving Feast and Boutique and had previously served on the YMA Core Team as a co-chair of the Social Committee. While serving for YMA, James met and married his wife, Lisa. His daughter, Anna-Sophia was both baptized and confirmed at St. Monica and she attended St. Monica Preparatory School. For fun, James enjoys golfing and running along the beach.
Joanne joined St. Monica in 2010 and appreciates being part of our vital community. She helps
lead the St. Monica Film Club that regularly brings “screenings with meaning” to our Parish. She
serves as a Hospitality Minister and remains humbled to welcome and join others in worship.
Joanne is grateful for the many and varied volunteer activities at St. Monica and encourages
others to participate. She holds a BS in Journalism from Temple University’s College of Media
and Communication and spent her career developing and implementing communication
programs that would ease change in major businesses worldwide. Her career included a special
interest in health care issues as well as developing user-friendly web tools to increase employee
engagement, understanding and action. Joanne is finishing an eight-year term on the Board of
the Saban Community Clinic and served as a volunteer at Getty Center for 16 years.
This is Ryan's first year on the Parish Council, serving our Community Life Ministries. He is originally from Rhode Island and spent most of his life living in Boston, MA before moving to Los Angeles and joining St. Monica's 6 years ago. He works on the business leadership team at VCA Animal Hospitals and also has a small side business coaching prospective MBA candidates on their business school applications. At St. Monica's, Ryan is an active member of YMA and served on the YMA Core Team for two years. He is on the leadership team for the annual Thanksgiving Feast and Boutique, and is also a leader within the Cornerstone ministry. For fun, Ryan enjoys cooking and beach volleyball.
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: (Merrick Siebenaler)
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: James Pena
Administration Ministries, Holy Grounds, Strategic Planning (Five-year Plans), Human Resources, Leadership Development.
Staff Advisor: 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 Advisor: 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 Advisor: Delis Alejandro
Parish Council Representatives: Mark Yee, Ryan Barba
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 Advisor: Diane Gasper
Parish Council Representative: Maria Lingbanan, JD Carney
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.
Parish Council Meeting Notes - click a link below to see the notes for the meeting.