By Jenelyn Russo     1/13/2022

Dec. 18, 2021, marked a special milestone for Holy Family Catholic Church as the parish in Orange celebrated its centennial anniversary.

One hundred years ago, in 1921, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles acknowledged the significant increase in the number of Catholics in the city of Orange. To address the spiritual needs of this part of the Orange County community, the Holy Family parish was established, and Fr. Francis Burelbach was appointed the first pastor.

The first home for Holy Family Catholic Church was built on a site located at the corner of East Chapman and Shaffer Street in Orange, with property acquisition overseen by Fr. Burelbach. Mass was celebrated at the new parish in 1922.

As Holy Family outgrew their location, land was acquired at the corner of LaVeta and South Glassell in 1949, and it remains their current home. The church was dedicated on that site on January 8, 1961.

When Holy Family made the move to the LaVeta property, one of the priorities was to build a new parochial school. The official groundbreaking ceremony for the school on March 13, 1949, included Bishop Timothy Manning. In August of 1949, Holy Family Catholic School opened, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, including Principal Sr. Mary Barbara, oversaw the teaching of approximately200 students. Today, the K-8 campus serves nearly 440 students and also offers a preschool program.

In 1976, when the County of Orange separated from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Holy Family was the designated Cathedral Church for the newly created Diocese of Orange and was originally led by Bishop, the Most Reverend William R. Johnson. Holy Family kept that designation until the consecration of Christ Cathedral in 2019. While in the role of Cathedral Church for the Diocese of Orange, Holy Family was the site many ordinations, large events and celebrations, including the Red Mass and Chrism Mass. Additionally, Auxiliary Bishop of Orange, Most Reverend Timothy E. Freyer was ordained at Holy Family.

“Holy Family has been a vibrant parish for many years, and I think that this celebration is not just marking the passing of time but giving thanks for the so many people who came to know and love the Lord through the vibrant ministry of this parish,” said Bishop Freyer. “The parish has had a large number of men go to the seminary and be ordained for our diocese, has brought people to the faith through their outreach and faith formation ministries, and continues to care for the less fortunate.”

On December 18, 2021, in honor of the century that Holy Family has served the local community, the parish hosted a 100 Year Anniversary Mass and Reception both in-person and live streamed. The event served as the kickoff for a number of celebrations that will take place in 2022 to recognize the milestone.

The thousands of baptisms, first communions, reconciliations, weddings, funerals and confirmations that have taken place at Holy Family over the last 100 years reflect the parish’s commitment to their vision and mission of evangelism and service.

“All of these things that have happened here have created this community here,” said Holy Family Catholic Church Rector, Fr. Patrick Moses. “Some of those people are with us today, some people have passed on and some people have moved on to other areas. But this core community has shown me a community that perseveres and stays.”

In a video produced for the 100-year anniversary, Fr. Patrick Moses, along with several parishioners, shared what the Holy Family parish has meant to them. Words such as “family” and “community of doers” were common threads as they described how Holy Family has touched and transformed the lives of so many.

“Christ, before he ascended into heaven, told his disciples to go out and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” said Fr. Patrick Moses. “So our mission has been given to us, and I think we just build on what’s already been given to us in our legacy of our past parishioners, our current parishioners and those we will baptize in the next coming weeks, months and years… This parish has affected generations behind us, and I know it’s going to affect generations ahead of us.