The parish dedicated to the renowned confessor St. John Vianney, the "Cure of Ars," was established in 1965 and two years later the founding pastor, Father James O'Callaghan broke ground for the permanent church.
The plans for the future reinforced concrete masonry building included a design for the sanctuary to project into the nave, allowing the presiding celebrant to face the congregation. Cardinal James Francis McIntyre dedicated the new church in 1969, a contemporary California mission style structure that seated 1,100 people.
The enamel inlaid tabernacle, from Germany, depicted the Last Supper and the large crucifix behind the altar was a Spanish woodcarving. The parish patron was depicted in a large stained glass window above the main entrance. Other windows were the work of Laguna Beach artist Joseph Maes.
At the parish's 25th anniversary in 1990 an estimated crowd of 5,000 celebrated their "faith and family" with their pastor, Msgr. O'Callaghan. During his homily, the native Angeleno recounted his first impression of his appointment: "I didn't even know where Hacienda Heights was," he said, "but I found 'wild territory' which had to be developed on land next to a street which was just a two-foot high concrete trench."
However, in the years following, he observed that the parish "has sailed through the turbulent waters in a straight line. The Eucharist has always been at the center of our lives." At the ceremony, Archbishop Roger Mahony praised the parish for its "commitment to excellence" and extolled the pastor as one who "functions in disaster but finishes with style."
For 27 years Msgr. O'Callaghan headed the growing parish and at his 70th birthday he received more than 1,200 letters from past and present parishioners who shared their thanks, memories and insights of his ministry that had impacted their lives. Named a protonotary apostolic (highest level of monsignor) in 2000, he died at age 85 in 2002.
The church was used in 1994 to host a Mass of installation and welcome for new San Gabriel Region Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, named an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles earlier that year. In June 1998 --- with the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels about to begin construction and St. Vibiana's Cathedral closed --- St. John Vianney Church hosted the priesthood ordination for the archdiocese, with 14 men ordained from St. John's Seminary.