A gala evening

Last month’s Romance of the Mission benefit gala drew 475 guests to the historic grounds of Mission San Juan Capistrano. Net proceeds, estimated at $285,000, will support the Mission Preservation Foundation, ensuring the historic and religious significance of the mission endures. 

The Sept. 20 event opened with an elegant cocktail reception in the mission’s Front Courtyard Gardens. Then attendees were led to The Ruins of The Great Stone Church where they heard from Mission San Juan Capistrano Executive Director Mechelle Lawrence Adams. Adams welcomed guests to the black-tie affair saying, “Tonight, provides us with a chance to come together; to celebrate the positive impact you have made possible; a chance to say thank you to a vibrant collection of uplifting people, making a difference.” 

Carol and Don Dorkowski were then introduced by Mission Board Preservation President George O’Connell. The couple was recognized for their extensive support and commitment to Mission San Juan Capistrano’s preservation efforts. 

Upon receiving the honor, Don Dorkowski said, “This recognition is beyond the realm of my thinking…I received many honors and awards during my 21 years in the NFL, but this is by far the best.” 

Grammy Award-winning singer and producer Steve Tyrell and his band then performed modern pop standards including The Look of Love, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, The Way you Look Tonight and When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano. 

Mission San Juan’s traditional bells were rung as guests made their way into the Central Courtyard. Reverend Monsignor J. Michael McKiernan gave the blessing prior to the four-course plated dinner, generously hosted and served by long-time community partner, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. San Juan Capistrano-based Rancho Capistrano Winery underwrote the wine pairings for the reception and dinner courses.  

Kerry and Gavin Herbert of Roger’s Gardens, Newport Beach, designed and donated floral design services and table décor, that included exquisite arrangements of red and orange poppies for the candlelit dining tables. 

Opportunity drawing items were drawn by board members Wylie Aitken, Bill Cvengros and Paul Mikos and included a two-night stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Ladies and Gentlemen’s Baume & Mercier watches by Jean-Jacques Mamie, a cultured fresh water pearl necklace and an 18KT white gold bracelet by Roberto Coin. Each guest was given an elegant tin of California poppy seeds as a take-a-way gift. 

Mission San Juan Capistrano is the leader among California missions in educating fourth-grade students through field trips about the mission’s impact on the state’s history.

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