What's next for Hollywood's hidden Monastery of the Angels?
Published in News & Features
LOS ANGELES — For 90 years the Monastery of the Angels was home to a cloistered community of Dominican nuns who lived, prayed and baked their famous pumpkin bread on the rambling four-acre property tucked into a hillside in the heart of Hollywood.
But in recent years the number of nuns living on the property fell from a high of 45 to fewer than six, part of a trend playing out in religious institutions across the country, as religious orders and congregations shrink. When the last few sisters were relocated in the fall of 2022, neighbors and supporters of the monastery grew concerned for the future of the property many had come to see as a spiritual oasis.
Now, in what some say is a modern miracle, it appears the Monastery of the Angels may be preserved after all. The Dominican Friars of the Western Province announced they have teamed up with the Dominican nuns to seek proposals to restore the monastery and leave the chapel and pumpkin bread business intact.
"Our sisters loved the Hollywood Hills community, and we look forward to working with the friars, interested parties, and the neighborhood to ensure our beloved monastery can continue to be a blessing to all," Sister Maria Christine Behlow, the former prioress of the monastery, said in a statement.
The request for proposals will be released in early April.
"We want to be open to every creative and interesting idea out there and do our due diligence to evaluate every possible angle in saving the monastery," said Chris Hanzeli, head of strategic initiatives for the Dominican Friars of the Western Province. "We are united with the community to protect the treasure of the monastery for generations to come."
The friars and nuns cannot predict what proposals will come their way, Hanzeli said, but they are committed to preserving the chapel as a sacred space for the community, preserving the pumpkin bread and candy-making business, and protecting the broader property for the neighborhood so "it can continue to be a blessing for everyone."
To oversee this process, the Dominicans are working with Dominic Dutra, a real estate agent based in Fremont who has devoted the last 15 years to helping religious communities across California utilize their properties in creative ways.
"Faith-based organizations have been declining in terms of their numbers, and now have a lot of surplus or underutilized land," Dutra said. Instead of selling their properties to the highest bidder, many of these organizations want to ensure that their land continues to serve the greater community.
"For people of faith, we look at it as we want to give God the opportunity to interject and show us that miracles still can happen," said Dutra, who is Christian. "That's really the priority here — to interject some hope and a positive perspective back into the world."
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