Blessed Sacrament School in Hollywood, California awarded the Menard Family Foundation with one of their Star Awards at the Annual Star Awards Gala on April 28, 2015. The evening began with Eucharist at Blessed Sacrament Church with Archbishop José H. Gomez presiding. 100 Years in Hollywood: A Milestone in Catholic Education was recounted by Dr. Yolanda Brown, D. Min, Parish Life Director. California Jesuit Provincial, Rev. Michael F. Weiler, S.J. shared the Papal Blessing for Invocation. After an elegant dinner created by celebrity chef Eric Greenspan, there was a special auction, and a school appeal. Directors Marcel Menard and Barbara Menard were joined by their spouse/partner, family and friends. All three of the “Menard brothers,” Bernard, Robert and James attended Blessed Sacrament School during the 1920’s-1930’s. Also honored with Centennial Star Awards were: Homeboy founder Rev. Greg Boyle, SJ; 1933 graduate Corita Kent; 1952 Graduate Tom Condon and his wife Julie; doll-maker Sofia Pocasangre; and actor/filmmaker Eduardo Verastegui.
Following is the history of the about The Menard Family and Blessed Sacrament School
The Menard Family and Blessed Sacrament, Hollywood, CA
Sometime in late 1921, Prudent B. Menard and Rena Blais Menard arrived in Hollywood, California. They had two sons, Bernard P., born September 3, 1920, and Robert B., born November 28, 1921, and a third, James R. to be born March 4, 1923. They moved into a home owned by Rena’s sister on Poinsettia Place. Whether they selected this location because it was near a Jesuit church and school, is not clear. However, Prudent and Rena were married at St. Ignatius Church in Chicago, Illinois on November 6, 1919, with Rev. James R. O’Neill, SJ officiating, so they already had familiarity with the Jesuits.
All three boys attended Blessed Sacrament grade school. They were active in parish life including serving at the early daily Mass with their father, and singing in the choir. Bernard was a “bad boy,” teased the girls, pulled their hair, and was asked to leave the choir. His brothers called him “Judge” because he was always telling them what to do! He graduated from the eighth grade on June 13, 1934, and his two brothers followed in next two years. The Jesuit connection continued when all three boys attended one year at Loyola High School. But having three teenage sons made finances tight, and the boys graduated from Hollywood High School.
With the United States soon to enter World War II, Bernard enlisted in the Army after four years in ROTC at UCLA. He met the love of his life, Mary Katherine Chafey, on a blind date at Ft. Hood, Texas. He was asked to bring one of the nurses from the Army hospital to a party, and that began a love affair that continued as he pursued her across Europe while fighting the Germans. They were married at Blessed Sacrament Church on August 16, 1946. They settled in San Diego, and their daughter, Barbara Jeanne, was born on Rena Menard’s birthday, August 28th.
Robert enlisted in the Marines, and served in WWII in the Pacific theater. His “claim to fame” was losing his riffle, which did not go over well with his sergeant. After the war, “Bob” entered the Maryknoll Priests and Brothers, and was known as “The Bounder” for his perpetual and limitless energy. He left in the 1960’s, and married Phyllis Huttenhoff on March 14, 1970. Their son, Marcel H. Menard, was born on July 20, 1973.
James entered the Society of Jesus on August 15, 1941. He celebrated his first Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church in June 1954, and eventually spent over thirty years teaching at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, AZ. He was known as “Jungle Jim” for his love of gardening. He was also known as “The bird man of Brophy Prep” because he had an aviary where he raised rare birds.
He celebrated his Twenty-fifth Anniversary Mass of Thanksgiving of Priesthood at Blessed Sacrament Church on June 10, 1979.
In 1999, Barbara established the Menard Family Foundation. Since that time the Foundation has given grants to Blessed Sacrament School for scholarships for students, and for needed repairs to the building. In 2012 the Menard Family Foundation assisted in the funding of the Media Center at the school. The Menard Family is blessed to have the next generation of Menard’s come to know Blessed Sacrament through Izayah Robert Menard, born to Marcel and Renee Menard on December 19, 2012. The spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, and the dedication to excellence in education learned at Blessed Sacrament, has deeply impacted the Menard Family. We are pleased and honored to celebrate with you the 100 years of Blessed Sacrament School.