The past and future of Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel Arcangel celebrates Fiesta on Sunday, Sept. 24 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bienvenedos amigos … Welcome friends! This perennial event is a traditional time for families and friends, old and new and from near and far, to get together.  Sunday masses are at 7 a.m. and noon.

A Fiesta Mariachi Mass will be held at 9 a.m. in Spanish. The barbecue offers a choice of chicken or beef with salad and beans and bread for $8 (children under 12) and $12. There will be other Mexican dishes and desserts on sale, games for children, a silent auction and a raffle.  ‘Ballet Folklorico’ will perform. Enjoy live music and dancing. Proceeds are used for repair and maintenance of the mission.

On July 25, Mission San Miguel Arcangel was 220 years old, having been founded in 1797 by Father Fermin de Lasuen, successor to Father Junipero Serra as Presidente of the Alta California Missions. It is the 16th mission in the chain of 21 founded by Franciscan missionaries from Majorca, Spain. But in 1834, the missions were illegally secularized by Alta California Governor Figueroa and the lands were dispersed. California became a state on Sept. 9, 1850. In 1859 President Buchanan issued a court order to return the missions to the Catholic Church and priests from the diocese were assigned to this church. The missions were returned to the Franciscans in 1928.

The church and rooms along the front arcade were intact and slowly the mission was restored to its present configuration. The Franciscans cared for this mission until July 4, 2016 when it was given over to the Diocese of Monterey.

Franciscan presence remains in the person of Fr. Pedro Umana OFM who continues to serve as pastor of the San Miguel parish assisted by Fr. Robert Torczynski from the Diocese. Following the 2003 earthquake, parts of the mission were retrofitted for safety but the east and west wings of the quadrangle remain to be repaired at an estimated cost of three to five million dollars.

General Manager Ben Martins is optimistic about the future. A new retreat center is now open and will accommodate about 40 people. Marriage and engaged encounters are being planned.  Contact the Parish Office at 805-467-2131 for information.

This year, one of the tennis courts will be used as a stage for Fiesta and options are being considered to create a venue for other events. A group meets weekly to work in the interior garden which is again being brought back to life. A community garden is being planned in the area of the Parish Center behind the picnic grounds in partnership with the San Miguel Chamber of Commerce.


Fr. Reginald McDonough OFM, who served at the mission for over 30 years.

On the north side of the mission a little park memorializes Fr. Reginald McDonough OFM who served at the mission for over 30 years. He was well known, respected and loved by those of the north county. Born in San Francisco, he was a charter member of Native Sons of the Golden West San Miguel Parlor #150 who maintain the park. Recently local artist Steve Kalar created a likeness of Fr. Reginald that now smiles down from the corner.