By Denise Ortuno Neil
I truly believe that there is somewhere that everyone goes to re-group, re-think, re-charge, let go and let be. For some, it may be a stroll in a park or a garden, or a long drive might do the trick. I personally take a short trip to Palm Springs and release myself to Our Lady of Solitude Church. It is not something that I schedule out, which makes it so special, because it is always there for me, waiting to help and encourage. It is my sanctuary.
Perhaps it is the old world smell that exudes from the walls of the church, reminding me of the grand cathedrals that I used to visit in Europe…maybe that’s what draws me to this quaint little church in Palm Springs. Or maybe it’s just the quiet temperament that embodies the church that attracts me, how it is never in a hurry, exempt from the blind rush of life around it. Whatever the reason is, I am grateful for the churches existence and a place that I can be calm.
Our Lady of Solitude Church is a Class 1 Historical Site and located on West Alejo Road near the heart of downtown. It has serious historical significance in Palm Springs as it is one of the first Catholic Churches built in the city. The church was started by Father Philip LaVies in 1926 and finally completed in 1930 through the fundraising efforts of other religious leaders and religious minded citizens.
It amazes me that the church has been around for over eighty years, and even more amazing is the growth that has happened around it.
For the past eighty years plus, the faithful have been flocking to the church for help with their illnesses, finances, their souls, their lives and those of their families and friends. There has been countless weddings, baptisms and funerals (Liberace’s memorial took place there in 1987) that have taken place in the church. The comfortable silence of the church is inviting, and the ghostly memories of those who have prayed before only add to the antiquity of the ambience.
Today the church holds Mass regularly in English and Spanish, with special holiday services. It is old school to the core, complete with confessionals and Votive Candles.
I don’t remember when I first started going to the church, and I did experience some hesitation in writing about it: Kind of like telling people about your favorite restaurant and then not being able to get a table because of its new found popularity. But I believe that Our Lady of Solitude Church is a very special place and deserves to be shared….I’m sure that I will still find some space on a pew.
Please note that my praise of this church comes without any religious recruitment in mind. But it really doesn’t matter what you choose to believe in the religious or non-religious realm…upon entering the church you will feel an undeniable feeling of something bigger, a feeling of history and the belief that you have found a true Palm Springs treasure.
Our Lady of Solitude Church is located at 151 West Alejo Road in Palm Springs. Call 760-325-3816 for Mass times.