Name of Church Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel

Address (on the grounds of Thomas Aquinas College – TAC) 10,000 Ojai Road, Santa Paula, CA 93060

Phone number (805) 525-4417


Mass times Summer: weekdays, 7 a.m., 5:20 p.m.  Saturdays, 7:15 a.m. & 9:15 a.m.  Sundays and holidays, 7:15 a.m. & 9 a.m.  Academic year: weekdays, 7 a.m., 11:30 a.m. & 5 p.m.  Saturdays, 7:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.  Sundays & holidays, 7:15 a.m., 9 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.  First Mass of each day is Latin Tridentine.

Confessions Heard before and after Masses.

Names of priests Father Cornelius Buckley, S.J., Father Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem., Father Joseph Illo.  All priests at TAC/the chapel are orthodox.  Father Buckley is the oldest of the three priests, celebrating his 50th anniversary of his ordination in 2012, and has served the longest at the college, joining the staff in 2004.  Although a Jesuit, he is faithful to the Magisterium, is an academic and author.  Before coming to the college, he taught at the University of Santa Clara, Gonzaga University and the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco.  He served as president of St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School in San Francisco, and later as acting dean of the University of San Francisco. Father Hildebrand is a Norbertine Father of St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County, California.  The Norbertines are noted for their orthodoxy and professionalism.  Father Hildebrand’s previous assignment was as pastor of St. John the Baptist parish in Costa Mesa, Orange County’s only Nobertine-run parish.  The soft-spoken, good natured priest oversaw the renovation of the parish, which includes a beautiful altar piece depicting the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.  Father Illo’s most recent assignment was at St. Joseph Church in Modesto.  He is a good homilist, preaching what the church teaches, even when it might make some uncomfortable (such as when he talks about the importance of chastity and modesty).  Father Illo made the news after the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, when he told parishioners that they should go to confession if they voted for Obama, because he supports legalized abortion.

Music  There are two student choirs, a schola with all male voices, and a polyphonic group.  During the academic year there is a full choir, and fewer voices during the summer months.

Special groups and activities The chapel is used for rosaries, evening prayer and other spiritual functions of the college.

Fellow parishioners  Students and staff of TAC, and some visitors.

Parking No problem.

Acoustics Beautiful, with good amplification.

Cry room No, but there is a vestibule area separate from the church.

Additional observations  Dedicated in 2009 and built at a cost of $23 million, Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel is located on the grounds of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula.  The college opened in 1971, and is known for its Great Books program.  The chapel was in the school’s original master plan, but a temporary chapel was used for years as other permanent buildings were built which allowed the college to function.

The college’s board of directors chose the architect Duncan Stroik and the early Christian, Renaissance, and Spanish mission-style design.  It is a cruciform structure. Pope Benedict blessed the cornerstone of the church in a ceremony in Rome in 2008.  It has a marble floor (with Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict’s coats of arms), marble columns (originally planned to be Indiana limestone like the façade), statues and other art, gardens, a dome, a baldacchino (a canopy over the altar area), and a bell tower.  The chapel is intended for students of the college and is not a regular parish church, but friends of the school are welcome to visit.  The new church has been a “spiritual magnet” for the school, says Peter DeLuca, founder and vice president for finance and administration.