As Orange County’s most historic landmark, Mission San Juan Capistrano strives to serve as a resource by providing a living and learning environment that promotes and nurtures an appreciation for history while providing a place of faith, renewal and celebration.
George O’Connell was born and reared in Massachusetts, is a long-time resident of San Juan Capistrano and a parishioner at Mission San Juan Capistrano. He joined the Board at the request of Tony Moiso, the former President. He recalled, “The Mission is a big part of the history of this town, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
George recalls that within a few months of moving to San Juan, he was volunteering to sell nachos at Swallows Day at the Mission. He remembered, “Msgr. Martin [Mission pastor for 26 years] asked me to help, so how could I say no?”
George is founder of O’Connell Landscape Maintenance, which he began with $60 and a borrowed truck in 1971. Today it is a successful business that employs 1,100 people.
He is generous with a variety of charities, including Mission Hospital, the Shea Riding Center and Camino Health Center, to name a few, but the Mission is by far his favorite: “Serra Chapel is my passion. I remember the first time I attended Mass there; it was overwhelming. It’s hard to believe we have a church that old right here in town.”
Preservation of the chapel has since become his cause, which he shares with his good friend, Mission pastor Msgr. Arthur Holquin. He also has been involved with fundraising and improvements on other parts of the Mission campus, including the parish church and school.
George has been married to wife Eden for eight years, and has three grown children. His interests include traveling, biking, golf, going to the beach and gardening. His parents were from Ireland, and hence, he has citizenship in both the United States and Ireland.
George is an enthusiastic supporter of the Mission. He remarked, “We’re already a major tourist attraction in the community, and we’re getting better all the time.”
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