Rev. Monsignor Holquin Steps Down at Mission San Juan Capistrano

Health concerns have forced Mission Basilica’s pastor to scale back his role

Rev. Monsignor Arthur Holquin speaks to distinguished guests during a ribbon cutting ceremony last March for the Mission’s new gatehouse. Photo by Brian Park

Rev. Monsignor Arthur Holquin speaks to distinguished guests during a ribbon cutting ceremony last March for the Mission’s new gatehouse. Photo by Brian Park

By Brian Park

The Rev. Monsignor Arthur A. Holquin, pastor and rector at Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano for more than a decade, announced he will be stepping down and scaling back his role at the church due to health concerns.

Holquin, who was appointed as head of the church at historic Mission San Juan Capistrano in 2003, has been suffering for the past three and a half years from a rare neurological disease that limits his mobility. He will be replaced by Rev. Monsignor J. Michael McKiernan, pastor at Christ Our Savior Catholic Parish, effective July 1, according to a Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange memo.

While he will be giving up many of his administrative responsibilities, Holquin said he will remain at the parish as “rector emeritus.” In an interview with The Dispatch on Monday, Holquin joked, “Pope Benedict and I will share something in common.” After becoming the first pope to retire in 600 years last February, the Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI would be known as “emeritus pope.”

Holquin, whose academic background is in liturgical studies, has also been appointed as episcopal vicar to the office of the bishop for divine worship by Bishop Kevin Vann, head of the Orange County diocese.

Holquin’s condition, hereditary spastic paraplegia, is a neurological disorder that affects lower limbs and progressively limits mobility.

“While I fortunately have my muscle strength … it has, in time, restricted the full scope of my normal ministry,” Holquin said. “It’s really placed a disproportionate burden on my associates.”

Holquin, who lives in San Juan Capistrano and will be turning 66 next month, said he will continue to work locally at the parish and with the Mission Preservation Foundation. He will also continue to serve as liturgical consultant at Christ Cathedral, formerly the Crystal Cathedral, and as a leader on an ongoing project to restore the church’s iconic Hazel Wright organ.

“I am not retiring,” Holquin said. “I am just taking on lighter responsibilities and have every intention to continue.”

Rev. Monsignor Arthur Holquin takes part in a riding demonstration during The Shea Center’s 35th annual BBQ and Family Faire last September. Photo by Brian Park

Rev. Monsignor Arthur Holquin takes part in a riding demonstration during The Shea Center’s 35th annual BBQ and Family Faire last September. Photo by Brian Park

Holquin has been undergoing regular physical therapy, including sessions at the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center in San Juan Capistrano. Holquin said the riding sessions help build his core strength and balance. In May, Holquin will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of his ordination, and The Shea Center will be honoring him with their Michael Lewis Friends of the Disabled Award.

“I enjoy going over there. I need a little help getting on the horse, but the community has been marvelous,” Holquin said.

A Los Angeles native, Holquin first came to Orange County as a deacon on assignment in Huntington Beach in 1973. After he was ordained in May 1974, he settled permanently in the county. Prior to coming to San Juan Capistrano, he served as rector at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange for 15 years.

“I’ve always tried to live by Fr. Serra’s motto, ‘Siempre adelante y nunca atrás,’ ‘Always forward, never go back,’” Holquin said. “But I’m not going to be foolish. There’s got to be a time when one has to appropriately call it and hand the reigns over to somebody else.”

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4 Responses to “Rev. Monsignor Holquin Steps Down at Mission San Juan Capistrano”

  1. Michele
    March 31, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    A very man.

  2. Patrice
    April 2, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Odd that members of the parish are hearing this news here on the Duspatch for the first time rather than at Mass.

  3. Paul Nourie, omi
    June 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Art…..congratulations on your 40th….the years have passed since Alemany…..I am presently covering a parish in Laredo, TX while one of my Oblate Brothers is attending an Oblate experience in Europe…….I will be attending this program as well in September given in English, where the present one is being given in Spanish, not my strongest tongue! After 50 years I am in transition and will very likely continue ministry in MA, closer to my immediate family. You are courageous to get into the challenge of redoing the Organ at the “Crystal Cathedral”, if I understand correctly the earlier piece. I never visited the grand structure…..may some day down the road……what a great day when we were able to obtain such a structure…….know that you are remembered in prayer…..paulyvonnourie,omi

  4. DianneMarie Suchyta Yarbrough
    June 2, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    My daughter in law recently visited San Juan and was very impressed by the church and grounds. I used to spend time sketching there as a youth and hope to visit again someday. Especially since you and your parishoners have restored it so beautifully. I will pray for your patience as our poor health certainly tries us in that regard. God Bless you on your 40th Anniversay. Dianne Suchyta

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