California Catholic church becomes a mosque

From the Orange County Register:

An Islamic mosque with plans to expand is now operating in a small former church that was previously occupied by a Maronite Catholic church. The sale prompted questions – even from church parishioners – about the future of the site.

The Jafaria Islamic Society purchased the building at 1546 E. La Palma Ave. (near St. College Bouleverd) and has been using it as a mosque since June. The Islamic Society has plans to expand the building and change the façade with architecture more reminiscent of Islamic traditions.

The building is less than a mile from another mosque – the Islamic Institute of Orange County, on State College Boulevard.

St. John Maron Catholic Church, which follows the Maronite Catholic tradition founded by a fourth-century Syriac monk and is in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, had owned the building since August 1995.

As church attendance grew, St. John Maron made plans in 2005 to expand the building. It began construction in October 2008 but a few days before Christmas that year, a fire destroyed part of the building.

Instead of continuing with renovation and expansion, church leaders instead moved the church to Orange in October of 2010, leaving the future of the Anaheim building unclear.

Recently, church parishioners and nearby residents noticed that the Anaheim building had sold to a mosque.

“It does seem odd to me that a building consecrated as a church would be sold to an Islamic faith,” said Hilda Ramirez, a Catholic from Anaheim unaffiliated with St. John Maron. “But at least it’s still serving a religious purpose for people trying to do good.”

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