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The Santa Ines Mission was founded in 1804 by Friar Estevan Tapis. The 19th of 21 missions in California to be established by the Franciscan Fathers, these missions were governed by the Spanish crown and military. The missions worked to teach the native populations the Spanish culture, religion and a trade. The military used the native people as free labor and a source of provisions.
The Chumash were the native people at the Santa Ines Mission along with Fr. Jose Calzada and Fr. Romualdo Gutierrez who are buried beneath the altar. The skills learned by the Chumash people at the mission were ranching, farming, weaving, leather working, and candle making. In 1825 Santa Ines Mission was secularized and the padres were replaced by government appointed managers. The Mexican government replaced all of the Spanish Franciscans and only provided for the Chumash’s spiritual needs and began to mistreat the Chumash. Most of the Chumash left the mission and went to work on ranches or returned to their villages.
In 1844, Our Lady of Refuge, the first seminary in California was built at the Mission. The first grade school for settler’s was also established with a new seminary that was opened a few year later named Our Lady of Guadalupe just 1.5 miles away.
In 1862 President Lincoln returned part of Santa Ines Mission to the Franciscans but it was not until 1904 that Fr. Alexander Buckler came to Santa Ines to begin the restoration work. With the help of his niece, Mamie Goulet, some homeless that had taken residence in the garden and some of the Danish settlers, they rebuilt some of the mission buildings and the bell tower that collapsed in 1911.
The Capuchin Franciscan Fathers are assigned to Santa Ines from Ireland in 1924. They began a massive renovation to the Mission in 1947 to add a second story to the convent which had collapsed in 1812 during an earthquake. They also established the museum and began to preserve and catalogue all the artifacts that were discovered within the mission buildings.
The Capuchin Franciscans are still serving the parish and community today. With approximately 1300 families, Mission Santa Ines holds religious services in English and Spanish, conducts religious education classes, youth groups, baptism classes for youth and adults, has a museum and gift shop with tours. Restoration projects are continuous and Mission Santa Ines receives no State or Federal funding.