In the late 1930s, the Columbans were discussing the possibility of establishing a presence in the state of California.
In the summer of 1939 they dedicated their new house in San Diego, and were in the process of putting down roots in Los Angeles. Around this time, Columban Father John F. Cowhig, who had served in Hanyang, brought up the idea of a Columban Catholic Chinese Center to cater to Chinese immigrants in southern California.
In May 1939 Father Cowhig met with Bishop Yu-Pin in San Diego about this idea, and the bishop suggested that the Columbans work among the Chinese community in the Los Angeles area.
In 1940, the Columbans opened a Chinese Catholic Center at the Parish of Saint Brigid in Los Angeles, with Father Cowhig as the center’s first director.
For decades it served as a center for ethnic Chinese immigrants from many areas of Asia to help assimilate into U.S. society and celebrate Mass and sacraments. The center celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2010.
Although the Saint Brigid’s Parish is no longer under Columban administration, the Chinese Catholic Center serves as a reminder of the successful Columban ministering to ethnic communities and immigrants from the mission countries.