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All Hallows salutes Pernicano’s at early jubilee celebration

Some are calling it “Catholic Corner.”

On Saturday, Nov. 3, All Hallows Catholic Church, with its trademark A-frame front, is kicking off its upcoming 50th Jubilee Anniversary in 2009 early with a Pernicano’s Night Italian dinner.

The event officially begins two years of preparation and celebration of half a century of history.

All Hallows is presently continuing construction on a long-term improvement project to its facilities, the first major expansion in many years, with completion expected after the first of the year.

“This is a project to take the church into the new millennium,” noted Cindy Bosh, parish director of stewardship and outreach. “We’re expanding and modernizing our facilities. We want to meet our parishioners in a contemporary way by having the best of facilities.”

Tim Golba, an architect and All Hallows parishioner who is on the church’s Jubilee committee, said new construction will take the existing structure to a different level. “It will take us from a building to a campus,” said Golba, “adding technology which is so vital anymore in education. The new facility will just be world-class.”

Golba said the two-story building addition is nearly 15,000 square feet. Facilities being added include a new multi-purpose building to be used by both the parish and the school. New spaces are also being constructed for a kindergarten, library and music, science and computer rooms. There will also be offices for school administration.

A centerpiece of new development will be a seminar room with a giant fireplace. “It will be used for everything from pre-weddings and pre-funerals to Sunday School,” said Golba. “There will also be sports and lab rooms.”

The founding of All Hallows can be traced back to the 1950s, when it was recognized that Mary, Star of the Sea in La Jolla and St. Brigid’s in Pacific Beach would not be able to accommodate all the new parishioners who were arriving in the area for the long-term.

On March 17, 1959, All Hallows Parish was established with Monsignor John Storm as pastor.

The church’s Jubilee kick-off dinner is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it will honor John Pernicano, owner of Pernicano’s Italian Restaurant at 711 Turquoise St. One of the church’s first parishioners, he allowed All Hallows to hold Sunday services at his restaurant while the church’s original structure was being built.

Early All Hallows masses at Pernicano’s were held with the altar in the elevated center of the restaurant where Pernicano and his cooks normally served food. Prior to the mass, parishioners would turn their chairs around to face the makeshift altar.

The remnants of the church inside the restaurant are there to this day. “The original wall he put up to have the mass, he just never got around to taking it down,” said Bosh.

Pernicano remembers Sunday services at his place well. “We’d have the mass, and I’d start turning the place upside down changing the booths,” he said, “making the pizza counters the altar.”

Best of all, Pernicano himself will be performing at the Jubilee. “I’m going to provide the entertainment, that’s all I can do anymore,” joked the restaurateur, who will regale the crowd with Italian favorites on his accordion and on piano. “It’s still fun.”

“I’ve been around 100 years,” quipped Pernicano, who turns 80 in February.

Pernicano noted All Hallows church has meant a lot to him and his family. “My children all went to catechism, had their First Communion and went to school there,” he said.

There were 11 brothers and one sister in the Pernicano family. They came to San Diego in 1945. John opened his family’s first restaurant a year later. Most of his family were in the local restaurant business. At one time, there were eight Pernicano’s seeded throughout San Diego County. They’ve all been sold off, except for John’s place. “I’m the last of the Pernicano’s still working,” he said. “I don’t believe in retirement. That’s why I keep going. People are amazed. They say, ‘You’re crazy.’ But I just enjoy every day.”

John’s four children all work at Pernicano’s on Turquoise Street. “They got it made,” he said. “They won’t leave me.”

Bosch pointed out jubilees, in church parlance, are special milestones, like anniversaries. A golden anniversary is as special as it is rare - which is why All Hallows is starting so early to commemorate the historic event. “That’s why we’re doing two years of preparation and one year of celebration,” Bosh said. “It just speaks to who you are.”

November is also a a month of symbolic importance to All Hallows. “All Hallows means All Saints,” said Bosh. “Nov. 1 is All Saints Day, our Feast Day, when all the saints rise.”

The Nov. 3 Jubilee dinner is located at the Parish Hall at 6590 La Jolla Scenic Dr. South at the corner of Nautilus Street. It is open to parishioners and the public. Cost is $12, free for children under 12. The menu, being catered by Pernicano’s, includes mostaccioli, meatballs, salad, rolls, drinks, wine and Italian cookies for dessert.

For more information call Jubilee committee chairmember Mary Anne Pintar at (619) 252-9923.