In September 2001, Father Abdallah Zaidan M.L.M., established Saints Peter and Paul Mission to minister to the needs of the many Middle Eastern Christian families residing in Ventura County, the San Fernando, Conejo, Simi and Santa Clarita Valleys.
Father Pierre Albalaa was appointed as Administrator of the Mission on September 14, 2001. He was tasked with securing a place of worship and with gathering the community and introducing them to the new Mission.
He commissioned an outreach survey, including a demographic and geographical study to analyze the most suitable location for the Church and identify as many parishioners as possible. He formed several volunteer committees to assist him in his tasks.
Saint Bernardine of Sienna Church in Woodland Hills was identified as a suitable location for our services. Father Pierre met Father Robert McNamara, the Church Pastor, and signed a lease to begin weekly worship services every Saturday night.
Father Abdallah Zaidan and Father Pierre Albalaa concelebrated the first Mass at the Mission on June 29, 2002. That day was also the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. 254 people attended the Divine Liturgy.
The volunteer committees continued to assist Father Pierre as the Mission grew and soon he identified the need to formalize them and task each committee with specific tasks.
On January 18, 2003 Father Pierre assembled the entire congregation and asked for volunteers to serve on the various committees. Many people volunteered to serve. 4 committees and 7 Pastoral Ministries were formed. The 4 committees were choir, finance, outreach and hospitality. The Ministries included Altar servers, ushers, education, youth and young adults.
For the remainder of the year and the years since, monthly general and individual committee and Ministry meetings have been held to plan and organize the many activities of the Mission.
On September 13, 2003 the Religious and Arabic Education programs were launched. The first year saw 46 children registered including 4 who received their first Holy Communion the following May. Every year since then has seen an increase in the children enrolled in both programs.
On October 4, 2003 the First Annual Gathering was held. The event attracted over 300 people and we have held the gathering every year since then, with the same overwhelming response and success. Since 2005, a commemorative book was added to the event in which parishioners and supporters of the Mission place advertisements and messages of support for a fee. These events have become a significant source of income and goodwill for the Mission.
The Mission has held the celebration every New Year’s eve since then with overwhelming success and demand.
In May 2004 prayer services for the Marian Month were initiated. The Rosary prayer service is hosted by a different family each day throughout the month.
On December 17, 2005 the first annual Christmas Boutique, children’s Christmas party and children’s Mass were held and they have continued for several years since then. That same month also saw monthly family gatherings at the Church hall for potluck dinners.
As a result of Father Pierre’s success in putting the Mission on solid foundations, he was asked to establish another Mission in Mexico. Father Jean Yammine was appointed the new Administrator of the Mission beginning on September 1, 2009
The growth of the Mission made it necessary to add another weekly Mass on Sunday mornings. Since Saint Bernardine’s couldn’t accommodate us on both Saturdays and Sundays, a decision was made to relocate to “Saint Martin In The Fields” Church in Winnetka. The first Mass at Saint Martin’s was held on August 22, 2008. Services began to be held Saturday nights at 6:00 pm and Sunday mornings at 11:30 am
2008 proved to be a very busy year in the life of the Mission. During the year, the Immaculate Conception Society, the Ladies Altar Society, Maronite Youth Organization, Maronite Young Adults and the Mission’s soccer team were established.
February 7, 2009 was a very significant date in the life of the Mission. His Excellency Bishop Robert Shaheen ordained Albert Constantine and Dib Tayar the first Subdeacons from the Mission, further cementing the vitality of the Mission.
On May 16, 2009 the first annual family fun day was held with multiple rides and food items available for purchase throughout the day.
On June 29, 2009 the first annual Saints Peter and Paul Feast Day Festival was held.
On November 1, 2010 Father Jean Yammine was re-assigned and Father Abdallah Zaidan M.L.M., and Father Elias Sleiman M.L.M., took direct control of the Mission. Under their leadership a new Mission council was installed and a major emphasis was placed on raising additional funds with the aim of buying an appropriate Church, a priest’s residence and a hall. Those efforts have now culminated in the Mission purchasing a property in Simi Valley.
In fact, the parishioners of Saints Peter and Paul Mission (SPP) continued their struggle to realize their dream of building a sanctuary to God for many years. At times, through tribulations and hardships, this seemed to be an impossible task, and many lost hope in building a viable church. Some chose the easy way out, and others preferred the glamor of well-established churches. Through the bleak outlook, God looked upon a small group of peoples who put their trust in Him and remained consistent in their labor in the field of the Lord. In a tangible manifestation of His faithfulness, the Lord led SPP to fulfill its dream in having a sanctuary that it can be called “Home” in Simi Valley. On September 9, 2012, Saints Peter and Paul’s new church in Simi Valley was dedicated through a Divine Liturgy presided by Bishop Shaheen.
On Saturday July 13, 2013, Fr. Joe Daccache, a diocesan priest from Beirut, was appointed by Bishop Shaheen as Administrator of SPP. Next to his appointment, Fr. Joe started a new schedule for Masses; he started a Sunday Mass at 11 am, turned the Saturday evening Mass into a solely Arabic Mass. After about a year, he started to celebrate an evening daily Mass (except on Wednesdays) with an all English Maronite Mass on Mondays to outreach to American people
Many accomplishments have been done so far since the appointment of Fr. Joe. To name a few:
- An MYO and an MYA groups were created.
- A Sunday School Program was initiated offering Catechesis and Arabic lessons on Sundays from 9 to 11 am for children (from 5 to 12 years old)
- Bible studies and praying the Rosary are hosted at homes.
- A house for the priest next to the church was remodeled and furnished.
- The whole church’s ground was fenced for more privacy and safety
- A beautiful shrine for Saint Sharbel is built in front of the church.
- The Church’s hall was renovated and an AC system has been installed.
- A new big container was bought for storage
- Multiple social events began to occur at the backyard of the church and/or in the Hall every each month.
- A new website for the Church was created
- A playground for the kids was built in the backyard of the Church