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Staff report

Gross proceeds from the “Romance of the Mission” benefit gala raised more than $650,000 for a historic landmark in South Orange County.

Funds from the event—which returned after a pandemic-imposed hiatus—will go toward supporting Mission San Juan Capistrano. This year’s event honored longtime Mission patrons and Dana Point residents Connie and Peter Spenuzza. The married couple sponsored three tables and gave all attendees special gift cards featuring their 18th century Spanish Colonial art collection, a news release said.

The “Romance of the Mission” benefit gala brought people together at Mission San Juan Capistrano while raising funds for the historic site. From left: Mission Executive Director Mechelle Lawrence Adams, honorees Peter and Connie Spenuzza, and Mission Preservation Foundation Board Chair George O’Connell. Photo: Lisa Renee Photography and Simonson Photography.

The event featured music by songwriter and actress Loren Allred, ringing of the Mission’s historic bells by Juaneño Band of Mission Indians members Nathan Banda and Michael Gastelum, a four-course dinner by Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, and wine pairings from local wineries.

Gala committee members, longtime Mission supporters who died during the pandemic, and three others who could not attend due to serious health issues were also recognized.


Monsignor Michael McKiernan, General Vicar/Monsignor Stephan Doktorczyk and Bishop Kevin Vann were at the gala. Lisa Renee Photography and Simonson Photography.
The annual gala to raise money for Mission San Juan Capistrano returned this year. Photo: Lisa Renee Photography and Simonson Photography.

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