2021 Mission Gala Honorees

Connie Spenuzza and Dr. Peter Spenuzza Recognized for Commitment to historic Mission San Juan Capistrano, Arts and Education

Community leaders and philanthropists Connie and Dr. Peter Spenuzza have called Dana Point home for 31 years but the world travelers - they’ve journeyed to more than 125 countries - consider Mission San Juan Capistrano their spiritual home. 

The couple will be honored at the Romance of the Mission Gala on September 17 for their longtime commitment and support of historic Mission San Juan where Connie has served on the Mission Preservation Foundation board for 15 years.

We are grateful to be recognized as the 2021 Romance of the Mission honorees and express our gratitude for all Mission supporters throughout the decades. Together, we can ensure that this remarkable California landmark will continue to inspire future generations,” said the couple.

In addition to their support of the Mission, Connie is on the board of Segerstrom Center for the Arts and previously served as a board member of Opera Pacific and Bowers Museum while Peter was a board of trustee for St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, the alumni of their two grown sons.

The Spenuzza’s also support the Southern California Latino Alumni Association, the Harvard College Parent’s Fund, and the State of California, Latinas: The Spirit of California.

Cultivating a lifelong appreciation and knowledge for Spanish culture and colonial art, Connie is an international-award-winning author of historical fiction and recently published a Spanish colonial art exhibition catalog. She will share a rare art piece from her personal collection Maria Cretia Plena in the Mission’s Resurgam during the gala and their polychrome and gilded wood sculpture angel from early 18th century Venice, Italy serves as the inspiration for this year’s gala theme celebrating the “Angels Among Us” and a commemorative ornament.

Mission San Juan’s annual Romance of the Mission benefit gala - held for the first time since 2019 - is an elegant evening on the historic Mission grounds featuring a concert by American singer Loren Allred in the ruins of The Great Stone Church.

“On behalf of the Mission Preservation Board, I’m excited to announce the return of this tradition that generates awareness and replenishes our Mission’s preservation efforts. Our theme ‘Angels Among Us’ - like Connie and Peter Spenuzza - who helped get us through this past year allow the Mission to rise up and serve our community in new and meaningful ways,” said Mission San Juan Executive Director Mechelle Lawrence Adams.

Organizers are excited to announce a new gala tradition with Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano serving as the evening’s hospitality and catering partner while Rancho Capistrano Winery and Clos Pissarra and Miura Vineyards will provide specialty wines for the evening affair.

Other major support comes from Roger’s Gardens of Newport Beach the generous donor of floral design services and décor.  Gala committee member and Preservation Foundation board member Kerry Herbert of Roger’s Gardens collaborated with fellow committee member and honoree Connie Spenuzza on the design process to create a unique design for this year’s benefit gala.

While the gala is sold out, there are ways to participate and support the preservation of Mission San Juan Capistrano, California Landmark #200.

An incredible opportunity drawing is open to all and featuring the following items: Four-and-a-half carat rose gold and round cognac diamond earrings by Lugano Diamonds (valued at $11,800); Stay and Play package at the new Marriott Autograph Collection Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano (valued at $3200); Cartier Tank Solo Quartz Watch by Jean-Jacques Mamie Fine Jewelry and The Swiss Connection (valued at $2480); and ‘His and Hers’ Electra Townie 7D EQ bikes from San Juan’s own Buy My Bikes (valued at $1400).

Tickets are $100 and may be purchased by contacting Brenda Mumma at (949) 234-1312.

To make a general donation in support of Mission San Juan preservation, visit missionsjc.com/donate

Known as the “Jewel of the Missions,” Mission San Juan Capistrano is a historic landmark and museum that features permanent exhibits with original artifacts as well as traveling and temporary exhibits. Orange County’s only Mission, the site is home to Serra Chapel, The Great Stone Church, and the original padres’ quarters of the South Wing and promotes faith, education, preservation, and cultural event programming. 

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.

"Cultivating a lifelong appreciation and knowledge for the Spanish culture and colonial art, Connie is an international-award-winning author of historical fiction and recently published a Spanish colonial art exhibition catalog."

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