School History

Celebrating 95 Years of Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles!

Divine Saviour is a multi-parish, diocesan and parish-based elementary school, located on the east side of downtown Los Angeles near the 5 and 110 freeways, by the Los Angeles River.  The parish was established in 1907 along the Southern Pacific freight yards, and was built primarily by and for the Polish residents who worked for the railroad, and lived in the area.  Therefore, it was considered to be a “working man’s parish.”  Father J.W. Orgnisiak of the Society of the Divine Saviour received permission from Bishop Tohomas Conaty to open the mission for Polish speaking Catholics.  Early records to not clearly explain the choice of the parish name, but it can be assumed that devotion to the Divine Saviour strongly influenced the title.  Father William Power was appointed the first pastor, and Father F.A. Wekenman is credited with the building of a new school in 1922, and a church in 1924.  Four Sisters of Loretto were sent to start classes in the large, Spanish style building that was dedicated on October 2, 1922.  During that era, German and Irish names began outnumbering the Polish followed by the Italians.  As the size of the parish increased, the size of the school grew to accommodate the students who wished to receive a good Catholic education.  In the mid 1950’s, the second wing was added, thus providing eight classrooms taught by eight teachers.  During the next twenty years, the Sisters and an increasing number of lay teachers taught.  In 1964, the old church was bulldozed and a new building was dedicated in 1966.

In 1975, Father Thomas Boudreau of Long Beach became the pastor and continued for 30 years.  The Sisters of Lorettos’ numbers declined, and they withdrew from the school in 1978 and a lay principal was appointed.  In the fall of 1983, Kindergarten was opened.  The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet moved into the convent and one nun began teaching in the school.  This continued until 1994, when the teaching nun could no longer stay and the convent could be better used to provide additional facilities for the school.  In 2005, Father Marco Ortiz was named administrator followed by Father Rene Jurarez in 2008.  In the summer of 2009, with funding from “Together in Mission” the school playground and building were renovated; electrical was updated; both inside bathrooms remodeled; roof fixed; interior lights replaced; interior painted; playground repaved; and other minor touch ups.  In January 2010, Father Marco Ortiz was named pastor.  During the summer of 2011, the school purchased new desks and chairs through the kindness of a private donor.  Beginning in the summer of 2011, the same donor provided funds which led to the rod iron fence, fountain, lanterns, tree removal and a front grass area.  The kitchen and bathrooms in the hall were remodeled in the summer of 2012.

 The beginning of the 2012 school year welcomed our first Transitional Kindergarten class with all new furniture donated by the principal of a sister school and library shelves hand made by a current parent. In 2014 Fr. Albert (Pastor), and Fr. Samy (Associate Priest), from the Order of the Servants of Mary joined our DSS family. In 2015 through the generosity of the Shea Foundation, a few interior items were repaired including new drinking fountains and the electrical panel was upgraded. In 2016, through the C3 Ignite program, our entire campus was fitted for wired and wireless internet. In 2017, through the generosity of the Seaver foundation, we were able to relocate our main office to the front of the school, making the entrance on Cypress Avenue.  Today, our halls are filled with the laughter of children as we look to the future as Divine Saviour has served our community for many years.