St John the Baptist Catholic Church
opened in 1959 and is celebrating their 50th Anniversary. The church has an amazing history with its roots dating back to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. Before 1820, the geographic parish boundaries included an adobe station of Mission San Juan Capistrano, for the vaqueros tending the Mission cattle. A small church and school were later founded in 1880, near the intersection of Harbor and Fairview and close to the now dormant Fairview sulfur hot springs. In the 1940s, Baker Street was the northern boundary of the Santa Ana Army Air Base, and trainees attended Mass at the Catholic chapel on base. After World War II, part of the base located at what is now Mendoza Street became the Air Force Rocket Engine Facility. The surrounding area was still agricultural land.
In May 1958, Cardinal McIntyre of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles granted permission to Msgr. Thomas J. Nevin, then-pastor of St. Joachim's parish on Orange Ave. in Costa Mesa, to build a new church to accommodate the growing population of the city and relieve the packed condition at the city's only other Catholic church. Ground was broken on Christmas Eve 1958 at the current site of St. John the Baptist parish for a small annex church and school. The so-called temporary church building was completed quickly with the intention, in the Master Plan from that time, of converting it into a church hall after a permanent church building was constructed. Mass was first said in this designated church on November 8, 1959. Photos from the time show sprawling fields of lima beans bordering the church property. Until May 1960, the church and school were known as St. Joachim's Annex. In May, the church was officially designated a separate parish and Father McGowan was appointed its first pastor.
Like many parish communities, the parishioners of St. John the Baptist have a history of pulling together as a family and generously pooling time, treasure and talent to serve their parish community. Through the years from 1962 to 1997, parishioners helped provide for an expanded elementary school, convent, rectory, parish hall, religious education office, parish office and portable classrooms. Then St. John the Baptist Church underwent an amazing transformation and renovation, which was completed in 2006. In 2010, beautiful stain glass windows were installed through out the church.
St John the Baptist has a rich history, dedicated to inspiring others with God’s message of love, hope, and spiritual enlightenment for the community of Orange County. From their simple beginnings, they strive to embody cultural diversity and to nurture our community’s spiritual needs. Today, St. John the Baptist, guided by the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey, is under the spiritual leadership of the Rev. Hildebrand Garceau O.Praem., with support from their dedicated Sisters. The church has over 3000 parishioners, over 600 students, a multitude of ministries, numerous educational and community out reach programs.
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