The feast of Saint Nicholas, December 6th, 2014, marked the kick-off of a very exciting year of celebration for our 50th year anniversary. It was fitting that we began our celebration on this day, as it was on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, December 5, 1965, groundbreaking took place for the newly-formed Saint Nicholas Parish in Laguna Hills.
The construction of the church (capacity for 750), a small meeting hall and rectory began shortly thereafter. Father Otto E. Sporrer, a recently-retired Navy Chaplain was appointed Administrator of the new Parish. On July 9, 1967, his Eminence James Francis Cardinal McIntyre, Archbishop of Los Angeles, officiated at the dedication of St. Nicholas Church.
In 1968, permission was given to build a new hall/auditorium that would accommodate religious education classes, an administration office, storage space and a kitchen. On January 25, 1970, the "Large" hall was ready and the first C.C.D. classes moved into the rooms.
The parish continued to grow during the 70's - living up to its namesake, Saint Nicholas, by the generosity and kindness of its parishioners. One bold undertaking was the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees who had fled their homeland after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Today, there is a large Vietnamese Community who celebrate Mass on Sunday and use the facilities at Saint Nicholas for their religious, language and culture classes.
In 1983, the parish welcomed two Sisters from the Little Company of Mary to oversee the spiritual care of the sick, homebound and elderly of the parish. Today there are 40 men and women Associates who are carrying on the work of the Sisters who recently retired.
Father Ted Olson was appointed pastor in 1987 and during his tenure, oversaw the building of a new Parish Office and meeting rooms. Father Juan Cababoy was installed as the third pastor in 1993 and during this time, a Eucharistic Chapel was added to the church building. Father Richard Delahunty was installed in 2003 and during this time oversaw the building of a new SRE/Parish Center which continues to be used by the over 30 ministries and organizations of the parish. The many classes and other events that are offered, foster the love of God and help our parishioners grow in their spiritual journeys. Appointed in July 2016 as Parish Administrator, Father George Blais began his shepherding over this ever-caring parish.
Today, we have four sizeable communities: English, Vietnamese, Fillipino and Spanish which embody the spirit of St. Nicholas and her mission: "Saint Nicholas is a Catholic community celebrating our faith through the Sacraments, Liturgy, Prayer and Service. We strive to nurture family life and to create one body out of many in the Lord. We share the Good News with people of all ages, cultures and faith backgrounds."
The golden celebration kick-off on December of 2014, was just the first of many events that were celebrated throughout 2015, such as, an Ecumenical Celebration, a Parish Assembly and Renewal, the Parish Mission and the Taste of Saint Nicholas. In celebration of Saint Nicholas' Anniversary, the School of Religious Education performed 50 Acts of Service/Kindness during the School of Religious Education school year. Those acts of kindness were recorded and presented to the parish at the closing celebration Mass in June of 2015. Throughout the year there were many occasions to reminisce and reflect on our long history through articles and pictures in the bulletins, parish flyers, posters on all the bulletin boards.
Remember the words of our first Pastor, Father Sporrer at the first Mass - "May God be praised with joyous hearts as we raise our voices with happy thanks to Him for His goodness." It continues to be a time to reflect on the parish and its evolution and your contribution to it, a time for reflection, a reconnection and thanksgiving!