Then & Now: Shaia Family

Shaia Family:

When my husband and I moved to Anaheim Hills in 1974 we were not only lonely because we didn’t know anyone, but we did not have family close by as well. We both came from big families that loved being around each other and we missed that. So we were looking for a place to belong.

We began attending Mass at St. Martins, but we didn’t feel like we belonged. As soon as Mass was celebrated at El Rancho Jr. High we began going there. We didn’t know a lot of people at first but my husband and I felt like we belonged and that these parishioners felt like family. That was so important to us. From the very beginning, Fr. Seamus made sure he greeted everyone and made a point of trying to remember our names. It wasn’t long before we were greeted as Bob and Barbara and a pat on the head for my sons.

Everyone was so warm and friendly. Week after week we made a point to say hello and introduce ourselves to other parishioners. It wasn’t long before there was news of a new church being started. I remember how eager my husband was to go door to door in our fairly new neighborhood soliciting donations to start our church. I will always remember the first Fiesta to help raise money was like a big family picnic with food booths and a few game booths on the dirt as the land was not paved yet; we had such a great time.

When the church was finally completed we were so excited. My oldest son made his First Communion while we were still at El Rancho, but my second son had the pleasure of being in the first class to make his First Communion in our new church the first year it opened. What a glorious celebration it was.

As the years went on and my three sons became of age they all became altar servers and we were so proud that they were growing up in such a fine church. They went through the CCD program and eventually the Youth Ministry program as teens.

There are so many good memories at San Antonio and Fr. Seamus was at the center of all of those memories. He was truly the Rock of our parish. His support and friendship has a very special place in our hearts. Even after Fr. Seamus retired he was still a constant in our lives. He was very supportive when my husband was on hospice. He made a few trips to our home to visit Bob and even during those sad times he told us stories that put a smile on our faces, even though we were hurting inside. On the day my husband passed, Fr. Seamus came to our home and said “Today I lost a good friend”. That meant so much to us.

So we have come full circle. Nothing has changed with Fr. Seamus welcoming us forty years ago and with the last parking lot BBQ. With all the parishioners that have come and gone in our church and all the names to remember, there was Fr. Seamus who greeted me with,” Hello Barbara, how are you”? San Antonio Church and Fr. Seamus, then and now will always be a big part of our lives.

Barbara Shaia and family