Skip to content

Executive Director’s Message


As I write this to you today, there is a flurry of activity on the Mission grounds. It’s a “sun shiny day”, and we’re in the middle of an unfamiliar, yet, rebounding summer.

Let’s just say it’s a lot better than last year.

Honestly, after 15 months of uncertainty it’s nice to see the team getting worked up about the “possibility of the positive”. From being fully open with lots of guests visiting, to preparing for this evening’s debut of Outside SCR’s production of “American Mariachi,” to my nearly being hit in the head by a flying butterfly while walking the path, the site is alive with activity, life, and optimism.

And that’s where we need to stay.

While we seek to bring back programs we love while dropping the things that weigh, I can share that all of us here do so knowing that the community around us cares about what happens to Mission San Juan Capistrano.

In fact, from the public’s financial support during this long past year of our Greatest Need-Stay Open Campaign, renewed memberships, personal visits, and advocacy, we know firsthand that what you do brings this beautiful site to light.

I can honestly say that from where I sit, it’s people that make it possible for old places to continue to mean something in new times.  For me, it’s always you, our supporters, combined with our Board leadership, volunteers and dedicated team, that make this Mission visible for those that might otherwise miss it.

Underscoring this sentiment is my favorite line from a song in the film, “La La Land” – The Audition, in which Emma Stone sings…

A bit of madness is key, To give us new colors to see… So, bring on the rebels, the ripples from pebbles, the painters and poets, and plays!

I can’t help but feel from the past year, that we all have new colors to see, that there’s been a bit of madness, ripples, painters and poets, and today, I can say happily, that all this has helped to serve the historic landmark, Chapel and Gardens, a place founded in faith, that can continue to inspire, serve and leave its viewer with something to feel, think about or remember.

Like the team around me, I too, am excited about the future and the possibility of the positive here at Mission San Juan Capistrano, with you.

See you on the path,
Mechelle Lawrence Adams
Executive Director

About Our Director

Mechelle is a Native Californian, graduate from Huntington Beach High School, California State University Fullerton (BS, Political Science) and University of Redlands (M.A.,Management).

She and the Mission are the recipients of such awards as National Preservation Award, National Association of Interpretation Media Award, Arts Orange County’s Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy award, San Juan Capistrano’s Mayor’s Business of the Year, Orange County’s Top Work Place Award, Tabasco Company’s top community cookbook award, Mayor’s City of San Juan Capistrano Business Organization of the Year for Heritage Tourism Association and marketing co-op efforts supporting the innovative promotion of the historic downtown’s business community and most recently California Missions Foundation Chairman’s Award for Significant Contribution to missions preservation.

Mechelle is the proud mother to three and resides in her home town of Old Town, Seal Beach with her husband and young son. She is the proud mother to two adult children, one a city planner and the other a costume designer.

Board and Commission Positions Held:
• Arts OC, Board member (2018 to Present)
• Committee Member, Advisory Committee for California Missions and Presidios (2018 to present)
• Orange County Historical Commissioner, 5th District, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett (Spring 2017 to 2021)
• City of San Juan Capistrano, Cultural Heritage Commissioner and current chair (2015 to 2019)
• San Juan Capistrano Heritage Tourism Association, Founder (2014 to present)
• Discovery Cube’s Innovators, Founding member (2013 to present)

• Preserve OC, member
• National Trust for Preservation, member
• California Preservation Foundation, member

Past Board Memberships/Non-profits Support:
• San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, Board member
• San Juan Capistrano Historical Society Board member
• City of San Juan Capistrano, Laissez Faire Business Sub-Committee
• Discovery Cube Foundation Gala Co-Chairperson (2015, 2016, 2017)

Support Mission San Juan Capistrano and Save!

Member benefits include free daily admission and other exclusive perks.

: Join

Museum Hours

Tuesday - Sunday, 9AM - 5PM

Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Closed early Christmas Eve and Good Friday.
Hours subject to change


Stay in the know! Sign up for news, discounts, upcoming events and more!

© 2021 | Privacy Policy

Upcoming Events


26801 Ortega Highway
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-1300

Our Mission
Jewel Newsletter
Annual Report
Contact Us
Volunteer Portal