Holy Virgin Mary and Saint Pishoy Church started in 1974 when two older buildings were purchase from a local church and were situated on the area where the tower now is. One building was used for worship on the upper floor, a printing shop on the street level, and dwelling for Fr Antonious Henein and Tasoni Therese on the basement level. The other building was used for related services and activities including Sunday school, deacons’ meetings, and Coptic language classes. Further east of the two buildings there was another older small house that was the living place of Atef Girgis, now His Grace Bishop Dioscoros.
Holy Virgin Mary Church was the second church established in California after Saint Mark Church in West Los Angeles. The initial congregation was about fifty families residing mainly in the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock, Glendale, Pasadena, and Arcadia and San Fernando Valley.
In addition to his pastoral service, Fr Antonious’ schedule was occupied with continuing visitations, teaching the Coptic language, and Bible study, in addition to numerous publications and service books. Tasoni Therese took over the teaching of the Coptic language and serving at the Sunday school and as ‘Big Sister’ to the young girls.
As the wave of the Copts’ immigration to the United States was rushing in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the size of the congregation had increased significantly, more servants were needed. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III graciously assigned Full Deacon Fayek Wahba, now Fr Mina Wahba, to help serving at Holy Virgin Mary. Deacon Fayek was instrumental in teaching hymns to the youth and children of the church, and to him is due the credit for forming a high standard team of deacons well trained in the Divine Liturgy responses and all other special occasions and events.
The need to expand the size of the church to accommodate the increasing number of the congregation became evident and appealing. The zeal of the church members has shown their love and generosity toward the construction of a large church. Meanwhile, in 1981 the church was able to construct a 13-unit apartment building at a short distance from the church for senior members’ housing. The property was built free and clear and it became a significant factor in financing and refinancing the church building. Over the years the church acquired a number of properties in the close neighborhood that are used for various related activities.
In the late 1980’s the old buildings were demolished and the new church building was completed with the capacity of holding 400 worshippers. The church interior has been ornamented by 93 priceless invaluable Coptic icons written by the Late Isaac Fanous Youssef, PhD and have been crowning the church books, publications, and Coptic Calendar. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III had blessed the church by consecrating it on November 5, 1989.
The late Fr Antonious Henein, of blessed memory served Holy Virgin Mary and Saint Pishoy Church from 1974 to 2006. Fr Antonious Younan also served from 1988 to 1992. Currently Fr Meina Albeir Youssef, Fr James Soliman, and Fr Angelos Youssef are serving the church.