$10,000 reward paid to four witnesses of St. Vianney fire

Following the successful conviction of Gregory Shiga, who was arrested in 2012 for intentionally setting fire to St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights, a $10,000 reward was distributed to four witnesses who came forward with information that led to the suspected arsonist’s arrest.

“I’m thankful these individuals came forward with their critical eyewitness accounts of the fire at St. John Vianney,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. “Justice has been served and the residents who chose not to stand by and let their community suffer at the hands of an arsonist are being rewarded for their information. If you witness a crime in your community, please report it immediately to law enforcement.”

Shiga was found guilty of four counts of aggravated arson and one count of burglary. He is currently serving 18 years to life in state prison, and has been ordered to pay $8,926,837.78 in restitution to the church.

Community Christmas Concert on Dec. 13 in Hacienda Heights

The 14th Annual Community Christmas Concert will be held Saturday, Dec. 13,  at 7:30 p.m. in Hacienda Heights.

The concert will be held at Saint John Vianney Catholic Community Center at 1345 Turnbull Canyon Road. It will be produced by Michael Gribschaw, Director of Music at the church.

Eight choirs will perform including: St. John Vianney Adult Choir – Christine Leong Brydges, Director; St. John VIanney Children’s Choir – Christine Leong Brydges, Director; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Eric W. Bladh, Director; Saint Matthews United Methodist Church – Elaine Ono, Director; Los Altos High School – Jeffrey Fahey, Director; Wilson High School – De John Brown, Director; Mesa Robles Middle School – Amanda  C. Benavides, Director and Los Angeles Philharmonic Choir – Hui-Chen Lee, Director.

Audience will participate by singing Christmas Carols.The choirs will combine to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from the “Messiah”, under the direction of Christine Leong Brydges.

The concert is free to the public and refreshments will be served after the concert.

A free will offering will be taken for the East San Gabriel Coalition for the Homeless. In 2013, $3,020 was raised for the coalition.

Weekend festival to raise money for new church at St. Vianneys in Hacienda Heights

file photo

file photo

The tents are up, the rides assembled, ready for the Early California Days to start tonight at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights.

The annual festival celebrates the start of summer, but more importantly this year it celebrates the rebuilding of the local Catholic church.

Funds from the parish’s top fundraiser will go toward a new sanctuary across from Los Altos High School at 1345 Turnbull Canyon Road. The church was destroyed by an April 16, 2011, in an arson blaze that caused more than $8 million in damages, much of which fire insurance will not cover, according to church officials.

The parish has held many fundraising events throughout the years, including car washes, community breakfasts, luaus and casino nights to cover the costs of rebuilding. But Early California Days are by far the biggest fundraiser for the church.

“We made almost $200,000 last year. The community has really gotten behind us to help replace our church,” said Ron Franco, a member of the festival committee. “Former parish members have come from far away just to show their support. We’re hoping for another big turnout this weekend.”

Last June, after waiting nearly 15 months, the parishioners moved into a new interim sanctuary. The sprawling, white structure was erected next to the blackened church beside it. It cost nearly $800,000. Now, they want start on a new permanent home for the congregation.

“We want to start construction of our new sanctuary early next year,” Franco explained. “We’re trying to get all the permits we need now.”

For more information, read Rich Irwin’s story CHURCH.