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REV. STEPHEN DAVOREN is currently an associate pastor at American Martyrs Parish in Manhattan Beach.
Rev Stephen V. Davoren Associate Pastor
The Mass was celebrated by former BMHS chaplain Fr. Steve Davoren (pictured), who returned this morning and was warmly welcomed by everyone.
For Stephen Davoren the seed was always there.While attending La Puente's Bishop Amat High School, as his mind was occupied with the standard teen-age thoughts of girls and football, it sat in the back of his mind, planted by his mother and nurtured by Monsignor John Cremins. Even when he was working his way into the Sheriff's Department, the calling of the priesthood rang loudly for this son of a law enforcement family.Davoren chose the badge. But it was during his four years with the Sheriff's Department where the real wrestling began.Staring into the cruel, dual nature of humanity on a daily basis can get a guy thinking an awful lot about God. "It was a series of events over the years.I witnessed a lot," said Davoren, 40."Just the daily things that went on and the people that I saw.I thought I've got to help in another way. "I found myself thinking about the victims and praying for them." In this struggle with the larger issues in life, of the good and evil in the world, Davoren eventually traded his badge for a collar.It wasn't an easy switch, though; in fact, it took a taste of the priesthood and another tour in a black-and-white before he was sure. Now as an associate pastor at American Martyrs Church in Manhattan Beach, he's found that the gap separating the two professions isn't very wide. Davoren's trip from patrolling the streets of Los Angeles to shepherding the souls of Manhattan Beach started the moment he was born.His late father was a sergeant with the Sheriff's Department, a career path his sister and three brothers also eventually took. It was only natural for him to enter the academy after graduating from high school.After the academy, he worked for a year at the inmate receiving center of the old Los Angeles County jail before being assigned to the Firestone station near Willowbrook. Throughout this time with the department, he kept thinking about the priesthood and the seminary.He thought, that while taking reports and getting the facts, he sensed a void in himself.He decided to consult with Cremins - with whom he'd remained friends - and talked about the things he was dealing with on the streets, that regardless of the help he was able to give people, something was missing. With his old friend's encouragement, Davoren decided to take a leave of absence and enrolled in St. John's Seminary College in Camarillo. "I thought I would give it about a year and get it out of my system," said Davoren, who also serves as chaplain at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance."That year turned into six years." As he got closer to ordination, he started thinking about the commitment of becoming a priest.The total surrender to God.The complete transformation.The reality of celibacy. Returning to the family tradition and his desire to help, he applied for and was hired by the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was first assigned to the Newton Division in the city's south side. It was at this station, in 1992, that Davoren found himself working in the middle of the riots following the Rodney King verdict.He said the first night of mayhem was unreal. "It was the first time and the only time in my life that I didn't think I was going to make it home. . . . It was very tense, very real," he said."I saw the city burning that night." After this, he was transferred to the Van Nuys station, where he worked in the juvenile unit.Again, he was taking rape and child abuse reports, looking at the ugliest side of man, but still recognizing there were good and decent people just trying to eke out a living. He remembers taking a rape report from one woman and somewhere in the middle of it asking her what was next.What was she going to do?Her answer was very simple and pointed to a truth he already knew.Her hope was in Jesus. It was time to make the commitment.Davoren knew he was ready. But at what risk?He loved his job as a police officer, he was in love with a girl he thought he might one day marry.This, plus the normal possessions one gathers over a lifetime, physically and mentally.He was letting go of all of it, but sometimes you just have to put your trust in the Lord. "Finally it was just a surrendering of it all and I just love it," Davoren said."It was a win-win, whatever the situation.It wasn't like God was going to be mad at me . . . but those are the types of honest situations that you have to go through." After being ordained a Catholic priest at age 35 in 1996, he was assigned - perhaps as evidence of God's sense of humor - to St. Raymond's Church in Downey, near Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall.Some of the same juveniles he last saw in handcuffs were now giving him their confessions. In switching from one beleaguered profession to another, Davoren also is aware of the spotlight now on both priests and officers.He said he also knows that 99 percent of those in both fields are good and righteous people. In the Catholic Church's child abuse scandal, Davoren said that first and foremost thoughts and prayers must be given to the victims. "Personally I think it's evil.It's a crime," he said."I'm not speaking for the church, I'm speaking for me.There can't be any debate on zero tolerance. "The only way this will resolve is through truth." Priests are people, he said.They're not sent down from above, they come from the community and they're human.
Rev. Stephen V. DavorenSt. Luke Catholic ChurchP.O. Box 798Temple City , CA 91780-0798( 626 ) 291-5900AssociateSt. Raymond Catholic ChurchDowney7/1/00