St. Mel Parish was established in 1955 by Monsignor Michael J. O'Connor. At that time, there were 415 families in the parish bounded by Corbin Ave. on the east, Victory Blvd. on the north, the L.A. County line on the west, and the Santa Monica Mountains to the south. The church property consisted of four acres on the corner of Ventura Blvd and Serrania. Three more acres were purchased later.
The first parish meeting took place at the Lombardi family home on Topanga Canyon Blvd and the first Sunday Mass was held in the Tarzana Women's Clubhouse - a building that is now long gone. As the parish quickly expanded, Mass attendance became too large for the clubhouse to host and Masses were moved to the Canoga Park Theater on Sherman Way.
The church’s architect was Earl Trudeau. The church, an eight-classroom school, an auditorium, a rectory, and a convent were all built at the same time at a construction price of $510,000. On Sunday, May 18, 1958, the doors were opened and the first Masses were celebrated in our new church. As the area's Catholic population grew twelve more classrooms and a school library were added.
The church suffered heavy damage on January 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake. A capital campaign raised over $5 million dollars for repairs and, while the church was undergoing reconstruction, Masses were celebrated in a specially constructed tent which Msgr. Padraic Loftus dubbed “St. Mel in the Fields.” Repairs and upgrades were completed, and the church was rededicated on March 10, 1996.
The Msgr. O’Connor Activity Center was completed in 1998 and the preschool was opened in 1999.
Pastors of St. Mel Parish have included:
Msgr. Michael J. O’Connor – Founding Pastor
Msgr. John T. Naughton (pastor from 1984-1990)
Msgr. Padraic Loftus (pastor from 1990-2007)
Msgr. Helmut Hefner (pastor from 2008-2013)
Fr. David Whorton (pastor from 2013-2018)
Fr. Steve Davoren (pastor from 2018-present)