Betty Ann and I moved into Anaheim Hills from Fullerton in 1974. We had been married a few years and purchased our first home in this newly developing area. It was an adventure. This canyon area was pretty much under construction with very few markets and gas stations. Our original parish was St. Norbert’s and we were excited to hear that Anaheim Hills was going to have its own church.
On October 1, 1977, we attended the first mass of San Antonio de Padua del Canon. We remember the setting, the cafeteria of El Rancho Junior High. Above the portable altar was the school’s mascot, Willie Coyote, affectionately called “St. Coyote”. A thin, young, black haired priest, Father Seamus Glynn, said the mass. His Irish brogue was as charming as his wit and quick smile. Following Father Seamus’ leadership, we took up the challenge of forming a community and building a church. We went door to door in the housing tracks to invite our friends, neighbors, and community members to come to mass and lend a hand. We broke ground in July of 1979 and our church buildings began to rise. If you look at the pictures in the hall you will see the photo of Father Seamus with a shovel. I had the privilege of purchasing and decorating the ceremonial shovel for the groundbreaking ceremony.
We were delighted to be a part of the beginning of a new parish. Our niece, Stephanie Gruver, was the first baby in the parish to be baptized by Father Seamus. San Antonio de Padua was completed in 1981 just in time for the baptism of our first son, Jonathan. Our second son, David, was baptized two years later. Father Seamus has been central to our faith walk in the parish. We have cherished pictures of Father with Jonathan and David on the days of their First Communions and on their Confirmations. Another special memory was attending the first mass that Deacon Doug Cook preached. It’s been a special memory having Deacon Doug be such an integral part of our church community throughout the years.
It has been a blessing and privilege to belong to the San Antonio de Padua family. Early on, Betty Ann and I were the chairpersons for the First Liturgical Committee. We supported the development of the Youth Ministry Program and SALT program. We have been continually involved in a variety of activities over the years as Liturgical Committee members, Eucharistic Ministers, Fiesta volunteers, and Chairpersons of Signs and Banners. Recently we have volunteered in the RCIA program, Knights of Columbus, and chaired the 2016 Fiesta.
For us, San Antonio holds forty years’ worth of wonderful memories. We have been blessed with three incredible pastors: Father Seamus Glynn, Father Joseph Nettekoven, and Father John Neneman. We have been blessed to be members of this community of Catholic Christians striving to be filled with faith, hope, and love.