A Special Interview with Fr. Jim: Everything Is Awesome at HFGS!
by Katharine Monahan Huntley, 4th Grade Teacher & Vice-Principal
“Everything is awesome! Everything is awesome, all of the time.”—The Lego Movie
Father James Bevacqua, pastor of the Holy Family Catholic Church community, is a man in black and a man with a plan. “I’m a visionary,” he states plainly and without vanity. “I want people to know who we are.” His favorite adjective just so happens to be “awesome.”
Acknowledging that Holy Family Grade School, established in 1925 by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a part of an increasing competitive landscape for Catholic education and “not in the most conspicuous location,” Fr. Jim fully intends for HFGS to outwit, outlast, and “outpray” its way to remaining a destination parish school.
And he is doing it from the inside out.
In 2008, Father Jim accepted his ambitious pastoral mission from the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Additional Masses, confessions, and managing a parish church, convent, high school, and grade school meant extra responsibilities and innovative thinking. The complexities of keeping the day-to-day business operations financially solvent, while saving for capital projects was, and remains, a daunting task.
Collaborating with HFGS principal, Miss Fidela Suelto, internal changes have included establishing a faculty with California Teaching Credentials and Master’s Degrees, one-to-one iPad programs for all middle school students, emphasizing Catholic identity with parents, bringing nutrition, fitness, hygiene, and comfort to the fore with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, renovated restrooms, healthy “Happy Lunch” caterers, physical education uniforms, and an extensive sports program.
Granting that first impressions are often lasting, the school is in the process of a facelift. Vintage “pendant” street lamps illuminate the way to this historic school, whose rooms have been repainted and some of the floors replaced. The front office and lobby area are just recently modernized and welcoming to all who enter its double doors.
Father Jim is emphatic about not settling for mediocrity, instead he wishes to polish what Karen Compton, a staunch Catholic and design architect consultant for HFGS refers to as “a diamond in the rough.” Plans for the future, God willing, include exterior paint, wrought iron fencing, an updated faculty room, and a parish center for the entire Holy Family community.
“Parents deserve a return on their investment,” asserts Father Jim, “and I intend to continue to enhance Holy Family Grade School as it continues to excel.”