Then & Now: The McMillan Family

My late wife, Karen and I were so called “cradle Catholics”. We were both fairly involved with our faith when we were dating. In late 1967 the U.S. Navy ship Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans and as a result I went from being a student at San Jose State in the U.S. Air Force reserve to active duty status with no one asking Karen nor I how we felt about that. Our planned June 1968 wedding was completed in spite of the North Koreans. Shortly after our wedding, we were separated by the Air Force who thought a neat wedding present would be for me and my unit visiting Korea for about 13 months. Not a happy time.

Our unit returned home, went back to reserve status, and Karen and I became a couple again with me completing my education at San Jose State. While I had been in Korea I had regularly attended mass and Karen had done the same at the parish she had grown up in in Los Altos. When we had become a couple again we had a small apartment in Sunnyvale and attended mass in the local parish. It was not a warm and friendly sort of place and the Pastor made me feel worse after Mass than I felt prior. This situation continued on until I told Karen that I needed to take a vacation from church and if she wished to join me she was welcome. She agreed.

In 1970 we moved to Southern California where I began my career. We lived in Huntington Beach until 1974 when we moved to Anaheim Hills. Karen and I were very busy with our careers. Karen began suggesting that we give Marriage Encounter a try and after a few aborted attempts we did the weekend. Among the many things we discovered that was missing in our daily lives was God. I mean to say He was in our lives, but He was not IN OUR LIVES. After the Marriage Encounter weekend we went in search of a parish and quickly discovered the closest was St. Norbert’s where we ended up going to the 5:00 pm youth Mass. A perfect fit for us. It was during this time that we became aware of the beginning of a new parish in Anaheim Hills.

We didn’t attend the initial meetings but we were present for the first Mass held in the multi-purpose room at El Rancho Middle School. We watched the first shovel turned to begin construction of our church. That is what it became, “our church.” We participated in various fund raising activities to support the building which included knocking on doors in our neighborhood. That was an interesting “Watch Tower” experience. We were part of the first Fiesta that was held in the vacant lot that was to become the San Antonio we now know. Karen and I along with Bruce and Gail Daniels were responsible for creating the grand prizes for the raffle that included his and hers Mopeds, a water bed bedroom set and a trip for two to a 5 star resort in Mexico.

That fiesta weekend conflicted with a Cursillo weekend I was scheduled to attend, as a result, while Karen worked that first Fiesta, I was making my first Cursillo weekend. Karen made Cursillo on the following weekend. I didn’t learn until many years later we were the first couple from San Antonio to make a Cursillo weekend. We have remained active in Cursillo. We worked every Fiesta in one role or another which included being Chairpersons. That was an amazing and humbling experience. We attended the first Mass in the new church, later we were part of welcoming ministry and worked as ushers. I was part of the “Bob Quaid Group” in the music ministry which was one of the original music groups in the parish. I have seen many beautiful things happen in our church, the most memorable have been the baptism, first communion, and confirmation of our daughters Paige and Brynn. My closest moment was the Rosary and the Funeral Mass we held for Karen. My Muslim neighbor who attended both services said that they were most beautiful religious events he had ever seen. Every time I drive by or drive on or walk into church I feel the warm feeling of home. I have been truly blessed.