Parish History

First, below is a wonderful video which shows some wonderful archive footage of the early days of Saint Bonaventure parish including the day of the “Ground Breaking” ceremony. It is a virtual trip back in time.

You can also read an entire chronological history of the parish, which will help you discover the roots of this community and how we got to where we are today.

Humble Beginnings

Saint Bonaventure Parish, Huntington Beach, was officially founded September 1, 1965, as part of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The formal announcement of the founding was made on Friday, August 13th, 1965, by His Eminence James Francis Cardinal McIntyre.

Our founding pastor was Father Michael Duffy. A native of Mayo, Ireland, Father Duffy came to the United States in 1939 and was ordained to the priesthood on April 18, 1942. Upon his arrival in Huntington Beach Father Duffy established a temporary rectory in a home on Plymouth Lane and celebrated the first Mass in the living room on a makeshift folding table Monday, September 14, 1965, the Feast of the Holy Cross. Present at the first Mass were Dan Caley, Carol Coskran, Sylvia Garza, Dotie Volz and Ray Levesque.

Very soon a temporary “church building” was found, the “warehouse” on Murdy Circle. The first Mass was celebrated there on October 3, 1965. Many stories are told of the days in the warehouse: poor lighting, no sacristy, temporary pews, graffiti on the walls, the cold concrete floor, the leaking roof when it rained and the pots and pans put on the floor to catch the rain. What was present, however, was lots of enthusiasm and love for this new parish. Father Duffy writes of that first official Mass:

“This is the day the Lord made. It is a day of great moment in the history of the people of God who dwell in this pastoral land known as Huntington Beach, warmed by the radiant sun and gently kissed by the soft zephyrs from the blue Pacific. Today, in the inscrutable designs of God, a new entity has been begotten, a new joy has flooded our souls.”

The Early Years

In the Spring of 1966, parish blessings were three-fold: the appointment of assistant Pastor Father Robert Vidal; the celebration of the First Holy Communion Class; and the news that beginning in the Fall, four Presentation Sisters from Ireland had agreed to direct the parish school.

The first Parish Festival was held in 1966. The winning slogan for that first Festival was “Buy a Buick for a Buck and Bricks for Bonaventure.”

Early in the spring of 1967, nine acres on the corner of Springdale and Heil were purchased by the Archdiocese for the princely sum of $334,000.00 and planning for the buildings began.

A ground-breaking ceremony took place for the first building to be built: a U-shaped complex with two eight-classroom wings separated by a courtyard. Across the front, the two wings would be connected by a covered breezeway, two additional classrooms, offices and teacher’s rooms. One eight-classroom wing (without partitions) would serve as both a school and a church until the church building was constructed.

Through the boundless generosity of Father Hoza, Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish five classrooms were loaned to Saint Bonaventure School and the students were bussed to Westminster until the school building was completed.

Also in 1967, Bishop Timothy Manning of the newly formed Diocese of Orange signed the contract for construction of the Church building. Father Duffy was elated and ready to leave the warehouse he wrote in March, 1967:

“Oh warehouse we thank thee and thy owner for housing our God and us these many months! Farewell.”

By 1970 there were enough funds in the bank to begin the building we see today. Monsignor Duffy wrote of the church building in the September 6, 1970 Bulletin:

“The westerly winds shall sing around it, gay and melancholy songs, befitting the mood of the celebration. But the breath of other spirits shall also flow gently through its portals, the Holy Spirit shall be hovering above it and descending into ‘young men and old’, ‘boys and maidens’ ensnaring their hearts with the love of God; bringing the sinner back to repentance and leading the holy to holier heights. Within its sacred precincts the wonderful commerce of God shall go on. His unsearchable ways shall be found, and some light shall be shed on his incomprehensible judgments. All in all it will be a merry hosting place for you and me for your children and their children, for many a decade indeed for centuries. We together shall watch its progress until the last brick and nail have been placed. From near and later from afar – happier hunting ground we hope – we shall lovingly watch its progress and hopefully be grateful of heart to have had a share in these holy things of God. Alleluia!”

While construction progressed, Father Duffy was earnestly accumulating support for the furnishings, statues, the glass windows that were created by French artist Gabriel Loire, portraying the truths, history and heroes of the church, the crucifix, the creatures of the Christmas Crèche and all the rest of the parts and pieces that make up our beautiful church.

Once the interior of the church building was completed, the Stations of the Cross were painted on the main support beams under the clerestory windows by the Pyszak sisters of Los Angeles, formerly from Hungary and renowned for their artistry in church environments.


By 1979 the building was paid for in full (the construction contract for the basic building was $296,237.00) and on June 10th of that year, the church was formerly dedicated by Bishop William Johnson.

At the time of the Church’s dedication Monsignor Duffy spoke the following:

“The dedication of St. Bonaventure Church is an occasion of great joy to the people of this community under whose inspiration and cooperation it came into existence.”
Its erection has significance today insofar as through it and in it, the mystery of the Church may be revealed. Great emphasis was place in Vatican II on this mystery. If we ask what is the Church, we may answer in the words of the American Bishops Pastoral. The church had her beginning before time: ‘Before the world was made, the Father chose us in Christ’ (Eph. 1:4).
Pope Paul has used a variety of symbols or figures with which to clarify this mystery. He says, ‘The Church is the House of God’ (1 Tim, 3:15); the home in which man meets God, an inner place where a family gathers, a loving community of kinsmen. It is a temple of the Spirit.
It is the spouse of Christ, the mother of the spiritually reborn. It is obviously more than a place. It is a relationship by which God invites man to enter into His life sacramentally and to which man must freely respond. Christ said: ‘Man must worship in spirit and truth’ (Jn. 4:24). It is paradoxical nonetheless that man needs or yearns for a place apart, a place where he can shut out the world and commune with the living God. Harassed by the cares of the work-a-day world, he is glad to find a spot holy and sacred and uncontaminated. Here he rejoices that there is quiet and peace and that his weary spirit may be refreshed and renewed by the Almighty. The Catholic in virtue of his faith knows that he is present before the Lord in the Eucharist, who radiates the love of the Father. His presence is the triumph of our Faith. Yet the church, the building, is not holy, it possesses no magic power. The Liturgy, the Sacraments, the Word encountered and experienced here in Faith make man holy. The community assembles to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, to discover his brethren and his God. As we gather within these precincts, made holy by the holy people, let us rejoice and be glad. Let us give glory to His name for having called us, His unworthy children, to share in the Faith of the Apostles and for possessing the hope of everlasting life.”

Growth and Expansion

The rectory was built in 1972, and the parish hall followed in 1976. The pipe organ arrived next and the church is still filled with the sound that is ever joyful and inspiring. The convent, located on Bradbury was built in 1981 and our Presentation Sisters reside there and continue to be a vital part of the parish and school.

By 1984 construction of the Parish Center was begun followed by a religious education center and two kindergarten rooms in 1990, providing an Extended Day Care program for children of working school parents.

During these years Father Duffy became Monsignor Duffy and he celebrated his 40th, 45th and 50th anniversaries as a priest and Pastor with the community. In June of 1988 Monsignor Duffy retired and Father Kerry Beaulieu was assigned as the new Pastor of Saint Bonaventure Parish. Sadly, on May 23, 1992, one month to the day after celebrating his 50th anniversary as a priest, our dear Monsignor Duffy died as the result of an automobile accident.

Renewal

Father Kerry, together with the many Associate Priests who assisted him during his term, applied the “Renewal” emphasis of Vatican II to parish life.

With a few expert financial advisors, Father Kerry expanded the then existing small endowment fund that today substantially benefits the extra-curricular needs of the school. Also, the Diocesan mandated earthquake retrofitting work was done on the school and church; parish ministries and missionary activity expanded; a Finance Council and budgeting were instituted: a Parish Council (now Pastoral Council) was formed; small group faith-sharing communities were established, and our Vietnamese and Spanish communities experienced marked growth.

In the spring of 1999, Father Kerry was appointed by Bishop Tod Brown (who replaced Bishop Norman McFarland) as Vicar for Priests for the Diocese of Orange. Father Kerry took up his new position in June of that same year.

A Second Campaign

On June 21, 1999, Father Bruce Patterson was delegated as the new Pastor of Saint Bonaventure by Bishop Tod Brown. Father Bruce’s installation was celebrated on September 26, 1999, during a trilingual Mass was packed to capacity and incorporated the beautiful diversity of the Hispanic, Vietnamese and English traditions of our parish. Father Bruce had previously served at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, Our Lady of Fatima in San Clemente, St. John the Baptist in Costa Mesa and St. Joseph’s in Santa Ana.

Under the leadership of Father Bruce, a second campaign was conducted to add additional funds to the school endowment fund, a pledge campaign was established to raise the funds to build the new Duffy Center and improve the facilities of the Hope Office. The Duffy Center was officially blessed and opened on April 30, 2006, beginning a new phase of life in the parish and providing additional space needed for ministry meetings. The Life Teen Mass for our youth was established. And, due to the guidance, diligent instruction and example by Father Bruce there is a new awareness of issues of social justice and outreach to the poor and needy in our extended community.

September 20, 2006, Saint Bonaventure school, one of two Catholic schools in California, received the Blue Ribbon Award, a national recognition program of the U.S. Department of Education, the nation’s top honor for individual schools achieving the top 10% in core academics. And in 2007 the school celebrated its 40th anniversary.

A New Vision for the Future

The many events over the last fifty years that have taken place at Saint Bonaventure Parish, both joyful and painful have served to bring us closer as a family and closer to God. In the joys and sorrow our strength is in the Name of the Lord and in our community, and as we go forward we look to the future with hope, with thanksgiving for one-another, and with a loving and humble trust in God.

Parish Archives – Help Us Preserve Our History

If you have photos, newspaper articles, or any other memorabilia that we can add to our archives, please contact our Parish Center (714)846-3359.

Please help us out by sharing your memories of our buildings, events, and key players in the parish.