September 25, 2013 — Jesuit Father Gregory Bonfiglio, who became pastor of St. Ignatius Church on the University of San Francisco campus last year, is now helping the church prepare for its 100th anniversary celebration. With its twin spires and dome, the church has been a San Francisco landmark over the past century.
Several projects will be completed in anticipation of the event, including the repair and amplification of the church’s Kimball pipe organ, installed in 1926. Work will also be done to improve the sound system to make it better-suited for the large church.
The interior of the church features a high ceiling, magnificent arches and columns, impressive main and side altars and beautiful stained glass windows and art, all of which have been well-maintained through the years. Jesuit Father Charles Gagan, who served as pastor from 1994 to 2012, initiated a successful campaign to repair the parish roof and for other much-needed construction projects. “My predecessor did a phenomenal job with restoration and renovation. We’re in really good shape,” said Fr. Bonfiglio about continuing the parish improvements.
The church’s exterior features twin spires and a dome built in the distinctive “Jesuit Baroque” style. “Our church is built on a bluff, and is a prominent part of the skyline from many places in the city. It’s pretty remarkable. The church is a great symbol of God’s presence in San Francisco,” said Fr. Bonfiglio.
“Anyone visiting the church can be overwhelmed by its beauty,” added Ray Frost, parish sacristan and caretaker for the past two decades, but most importantly, “It’s a wonderful place to pray. It’s majestic and beautiful, but it also has an intimacy that believers find appealing.”
Italian Jesuits founded the first St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco in 1855. The current St. Ignatius is actually the fifth church constructed and was officially dedicated on Aug. 2, 1914. For much of its history, the church was designated as a university chapel, but reverted to parish status in 1994.
Fr. Bonfiglio said the pastoral team is looking at programs to build community and foster spirituality among the diverse groups of parishioners, which include local residents, tourists and those throughout the Bay Area with a Jesuit background or drawn to the spirituality of the Jesuits. “Our Jesuit ‘brand’ is a practical spirituality, appealing to many in the workaday world. We’re currently developing spiritual programs to satisfy this need,” said Fr. Bonfiglio.