By the time Monday arrived, the city of Anaheim was well aware of the significant milestone its second-oldest Catholic church was marking. After a yearlong celebration of the 60th anniversary of St. Anthony Claret Parish, this past weekend marked the culmination of festivities that have honored the past and set a course for the future. A colorful and lively community parade through the Anna Street neighborhood, led by Bishop Vann, was just one of the scheduled events.
“We had something for everyone,” says Father Bill Cao, pastor.
Festivities began on Thursday when more than 150 teens and young adults gathered for a special mass, followed by praise and adoration.
“It was a multi-event weekend,” Fr. Bill says. “On Friday, two Latino bands came together and there were about 700 people there, just for that event.” The capacity crowd exceeded expectations and they danced late into the evening on a warm summer-like night.
“At one point, there was almost no room on the dance floor,” Fr. Bill says, adding that young and old were all dancing. “I even tried some of the dances myself.”
Saturday’s lineup included the Philippine Chamber Singers of Los Angeles as well as vocalist Lara Avengoza (currently starring as Princess Jasmine for Disneyland’s “Aladdin” show). Some 300 people attended. They also enjoy a performance by the combined choir from St. Anthony Claret.
“Father Mario, the former pastor and myself, sang a few songs, too,” Fr. Bill says.
“On Sunday, Bishop Kevin led a procession through the Anna Drive neighborhood,” Fr. Bill says. “About 1,300 people were there. Anna Drive is a neighborhood that has its challenges so I’m trying to bridge and bring about peace and reconciliation in the community so it was a symbolic procession.”
And though the celebration of the 60th anniversary is over, Fr. Bill says there is so much ahead, especially as the holidays approach.
“There is the Year of Mercy, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe…there is much to celebrate,” he says.