Funds raised support the efforts of the Mission Preservation Foundation


On a warm Friday evening in September, more than 450 supporters of the Mission San Juan Capistrano opened their hearts and their wallets at the annual Romance of the Mission benefit gala to raise funds for the Mission Preservation Foundation, the entity that provides much-needed financial support to restore and maintain the historic mission. The event brought in $550,000, with net proceeds totaling $236,000.

The evening included a concert by season XIV “American Idol” finalist Clark Beckham. Honored at the event was longtime community partner The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.

Beckham’s explosive performance spanned several musical genres including renditions of Georgia, Hallelujah duet with vocalist Chanelle Ray and a benefit gala tradition, When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano.

“Performing in the sacred grounds of the Ruins of The Great Stone Church was the greatest honor of my life,” commented Beckham following the concert.

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel was recognized for its unwavering support of the Mission’s preservation efforts over the course of the benefit gala’s 13 years. Mission Preservation Foundation board member and Ritz-Carlton General Manager Bruce Brainerd accepted the award presented by board chair George O’Connell.

Mission San Juan Executive Director Mechelle Lawrence Adams shared inspiring remarks during a short program prior to the concert: “As a new year of priorities, changes, challenges and opportunities will unfold before us, I believe the Romance of the Mission gala is the foundation from which we spring board to action and care… in the spirit of community and tradition we come together. To be mesmerized, swept away, inspired and reminded that beauty is right here in the center of historic downtown and that collectively you all have made the Mission what it is today.”

Official Mission bell ringer Nathan Banda rang the historic Mission bells to mark the end of the concert and to further celebrate the evening.

The elegant Spanish theme in bright colors of orange and pink was inspired by an image courtesy of the Irvine Museum Collection, Frank H. Myers (1899-1956) Fiesta in Old Monterey. The original painting was displayed in the Resurgam viewable to guests as they made their way from the concert into the Mission’s Central Courtyard where the Old Fiesta theme continued with one-of-a-kind décor of colorful lanterns overhead and tables set for a gourmet plated four-course candlelight dinner masterfully prepared and served by The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin Vann led the invocation prior to dinner. Later, guests raised their glasses in a toast to The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel and all past benefit gala honorees in attendance. An opportunity drawing featured a Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel get-a-way, Montana Sporting Club experience and an 18K white and rose gold diamond cross donated by Jean-Jacques Mamie Fine Jewelry.

Major underwriters included Microsemi, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Inn at the Mission, the O’Connell Family Foundation and EJ Tracy.