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Pasadena Church Cross Finds a Home

September 19, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

A rusty, 12-foot cross that shone as a beacon in northeast Pasadena for decades -- until its church was sold -- has found a new home where it will loom even higher.

Its new owner is Father Patrick Brennan, who leads spiritual retreats from a mountainside center in Sierra Madre.

The center is about 2,000 feet above sea level, said Brennan of his Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center. "We can put it up on the mountain and it will still have an impact. It can still make a statement to those passing through the area."

Just three weeks ago, the white sheet-metal cross was removed from its longtime perch atop the main dome of the former St. Luke Medical Center in Pasadena.

The hospital shut down last year, Caltech bought the building for office space and the cross, an inappropriate symbol for an institute devoted to the study of science and technology, had to go.

Caltech offered it to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. But they turned down the gift, with respect, because they had no place to put it, said Sister Suzanne Sassus.

After a surge of media attention, Caltech received more than 20 offers, some from as far away as the Central Valley, Arizona and Nevada. Caltech spokesman Hall Daily said the school wanted to keep the cross as close as possible to its original home and give it to a local religious group.

Brennan's request was not only the most enthusiastic, it met all the criteria.

The priest said he had bonded with the cross over the years. He remembers focusing on the peaceful sight as he drove to the hospital to visit the sick and help the sisters.

"I just want to put it up as a little landmark and a symbol of peace," Brennan said. "We can all use a little peace these days."

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