Mission San Juan Capistrano's Preservation Foundation Celebrates Annual Benefit Gala

High Profile Event Raises Funds and Honors Joan and Bill Cvengros During Spectacular Evening

The theme Love Endures was evident throughout Mission Preservation Foundation’s incredible Romance of the Mission gala with close to 400 guests at historic Mission San Juan Capistrano on September 16. San Juan Capistrano residents Joan and Bill Cvengros were honored for their longtime commitment to Mission San Juan at the coveted black-tie affair with gross proceeds of $772K benefiting the care and stewardship of the nearly 245-year-old landmark. Laguna Niguel Lifestyle Magazine is proud to serve as the gala’s media sponsor for the second year.

An evening highlight was a spectacular live concert in the Ruins of The Great Stone Church (Circa 1812) featuring Broadway award-winning artists Vonzell Solomon and Terron Brooks. The duo started the set with a moving rendition of the song Shallow followed by an exquisite solo by Solomon of I Will Always Love You. The set included a benefit gala tradition, When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano and unbeknownst to guests, gospel singers joined the duo for the concert finale of lively songs that had attendees on their feet and dancing in the aisles.

As guests arrived on the red carpet, there were greeted outside by professional violinist Amy Serrano. Inside the Mission’s beautiful Central Courtyard, Saxophonist Randy Gist entertained guests near the Bell Wall as guests enjoyed the reception and made their way to the concert.

Mission San Juan Capistrano Executive Director Mechelle Lawrence Adams said, “It’s very clear to me, that today, Mission San Juan Capistrano is an architectural embodiment of the notion that Love Endures. We live to leave an impact…to leave something behind…our children and a better humanity, traditions, faith, courage, conviction. We all hope to leave a bit of our love of life behind in something that endures. We are filled with gratitude and hope for the support and love left behind in the collective script here this evening.”

During the evening’s program, Mission San Juan’s Executive Director Mechelle Lawrence Adams gave a moving presentation about the theme Love Endures and all that Mission San Juan has represented in the community throughout its history and today. Mission Preservation Board President George O’Connell then presented the gala honorees Bill and Joan Cvengros. Bill has served on the Mission Preservation Foundation Board for over 20 years working to ensure the financial stability and transparency of the historic landmark. Bill and Joan have called San Juan Capistrano home for nearly 30 years and are community advocates for numerous other causes.

Mission San Juan’s historic bells were rung by members of the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation Nathan Banda and Michael Gastelum as guests made their way into the Central Courtyard for dinner.

The Most Reverend Bishop Kevin W. Vann said the dinner blessing followed by a superb four-course, plated dinner hosted by Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Autograph Collection.

Support from Inn at the Mission just next door to Mission San Juan Capistrano has been extensive over the past two years. At this year’s gala, the Inn’s new executive chef Adrian Hernandez was joined by Chef Aaron Obregon to create a culinary experience like no other. The first course - The Founding Course included roast beet Gazpacho followed by the (Reverence Course of Heart of Palm Garden Salad with summer figs and edamame cilantro ricotta. The entrée Abundance Course was a generous serving of Tomahawk Bone in Beef Rib with herb-crusted Mexican prawns and caviar, manchego polenta and yellow corn rajas. For the Gratitude Couse, the “Love Duet Dessert” included red berries and chocolate buttercream opera with hibiscus strawberries and buttercream.

A superb presentation of wine pairings for dinner and the reception were graciously provided by Kyle and Sylvia Franson of Rancho Capistrano Winery.

During dinner, guests enjoyed the music of the Main Stage Band and Jazz Quartet made up of the incredible musicians of The Red Hot Band.

Major underwriting was provided by Kerry and Gavin Herbert, Jr. of Roger’s Gardens who donated the evening’s floral design and decor while Lugano Diamonds, Newport Beach provided dazzling ruby and diamond earrings valued at over $15K for the opportunity drawing. Additional drawing items were generously donated by Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club and Jim Curwood of Buy My Bikes, San Juan Capistrano.

The original painting Mary Pickford’s Wedding by Charles Percy Austin (dated 1924) from the Mission’s Museum Collection was beautifully displayed in the Resurgam during the evening and a 2022 reproduction was added as an opportunity drawing item.

Each guest received a limited edition swallow and complimentary Mission-inspired notecards, courtesy of The Irvine Museum.

A special Adopt-a-Class Scholarship Program matching pledge of $25K was presented by Reverend Monsignor J. Michael McKiernan on behalf of donor Jon Cobain. Valet services were provided by Brand Enhance Parking & Hospitality.  

The 2022 Gala Committee included Kerry Herbert, Vicky Carabini, Laura Freese, Evonne Morton, Daisy Funk, Jan Siegel, Lisa Renee Baker, Laura Baratta, Mechelle Lawrence Adams and Stephanie Montes de Oca.

Known as the “Jewel of the Missions,” Mission San Juan Capistrano is a historic landmark and museum that features exhibits, five-language audio tour, festivals and public programming. As Orange County’s only mission, the site is home to Serra Chapel, the Ruins of The Great Stone Church (circa 1796) and original padres’ quarters.

Founded on November 1, 1776, by Saint Junipero Serra as the seventh of 21 California missions established by Spain, Mission San Juan Capistrano is owned by the Diocese of Orange and receives no church or state funding. The Mission Preservation Foundation, comprised of business and community leaders, is its fundraising entity committed to ensuring education, preservation and its long-term historic and religious significance.

For more information or to learn about how to pledge for next year’s gala on September 15, 2023 or to get involved, contact Mechelle Lawrence Adams at 949.234.1311 or visit

Love Bears All Things. Believes All Things. Hopes All Things. Endures All Things.

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