Our Meeting place is St. Anthony’s Chapel, which was part of a Franciscan seminary founded in 1880. It was dedicated on the Feast of Christ the King so it is sometimes known by that name also.
Our present community had its origins in the new inclusivity and creativity sparked by the Vatican II Council. In that spirit, the Franciscans decided to open their doors to the wider Santa Barbara community for Sunday Mass. At the time, many Catholics were seeking a community where they could live out the Vatican II’s call for reform, and St. Anthony’s was just such a place.
After Vatican II, the seminary evolved into a high school for young men considering a call to the Franciscan way of life. Even though the high school seminary closed in 1987, due to a major sexual abuse scandal, the chapel remained open to the faithful of Santa Barbara for Sunday mass and the major feast days. When the property was sold to San Roque School in 2004, the Franciscan priests at the Old Mission continued to minister to the community.
Fr. Leo Spreitsma OFM served the St. Anthony Community until he retired, for health reasons, in 2010. He went back to God the weekend of May 15, 2020. 2010 was a turning point for the Community, as the Franciscans at the Old Mission could no longer provide a priest to celebrate the Eucharist with us, which was over 300 at the time.Rather than disband, the members of the community chose to continue to worship under the leadership of two Married Catholic Priests who were members of St. Anthony’s at the time.
Fr. John Fr. Keith Fr. Dudley Fr. Gene Baum
Father Keith Forester and John Hydar were blessed by Fr. Leo and the Saint Anthony’s community to continue to serve the Eucharistic and Sacramental needs of the people. Fr. Dudley Conneely MM and Fr. Gene Baum were blessed later by the Community to assist with Mass and Visiting the sick. These decisions was not taken lightly. As baptized and active Roman Catholics we knew it would put us in conflict with the official Catholic church at the time. However it gave us the freedom to become a New Model of Church/church that Vatican II was making possible. St. Anthony’s is living it’s future as an independent “Intentional Eucharistic Community,” seeking to express the love of Jesus in all that we do. Fr. Leo supported this decision and gave his blessing to our married priests on his final Sunday with us.
Since then, we recently called forward an Married Ordained woman priest from the Church of Antioch. Her name is Rev. Dr. Grandma Cynthia Yoshitomi. Her background is in Roman Catholic Campus Ministry serving at UCLA and Occidental College. Other Catholics have served for centuries as ordained married men and women to serve the needs of people who desire an Old church with a New Heart. Please read: “The Other Catholics: Remaking America’s Largest Religion.” Author: Julie Byrne.