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The Mission in San Juan Capistrano

The gala was held days before Junipero Serra's canonization

jennifer-kienle-laurie-ai
Laurie Aitken, Wendy Peloso, Jennifer Kienle and Deanna Crosby

The sound of cocktail shakers mingled with the strains of Spanish guitars at the Romance of the Mission gala in San Juan Capistrano. Held September 18, days before Junipero Serra’s canonization, a sense of history colored the evening. Pealing bells, an enormous banner heralding St. Serra and theatrical lighting illuminating the Great Stone Church ruins reminded 510 visitors that they were treading on sacred ground.

Partygoers congratulated honorees Bette and Wylie Aitken before a concert tribute to Frank Sinatra. Anaheim Hills resident Wylie explained he was encouraged to get involved at the urging of Richard O’Neill and other board members. Since then, he and his wife have only strengthened their ties to the Mission, renewing their vows there two years ago.

“We had four priests. I think they wanted to make sure it would work,” Bette quipped.
After the concert, guests strolled into a courtyard where tables laden with elaborate floral arrangements awaited a lobster and short rib dinner catered by the Ritz-Carlton. Remarks during the benefit, which netted $265,500 for Mission preservation projects, continually referenced the evening’s historical significance. “It’s a celebration of the past with an eye to the future,” said foundation executive director Mechelle Lawrence Adams.


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