Saint Junípero Serra, the 18th-century Spanish priest whom Pope Francis called “the evangelizer of the West to the United States”, has taken it in the chin since his canonization in September 2015.
Vandalism of public statues of Junípero Serra took place by mobs and angry individuals and desecrated on Catholic church property in Mission Carmel, Old Mission Santa Barbara, Mission San Gabriel, and Mission San Rafael. Some Catholics, however, were not embarrassed. They lift it up.
Serra was born and baptized on November 24, 1713 in the city of Petra, Majorca, Spain. He grew up in a poor and deeply religious community. He had pious parents and a sister. His teachers were priests and friars of the Order of Friars Minor, also known as Franciscans, who noticed his deep faith and intelligence when he was just a young boy.
In 1737, after many years of study, he was ordained a Franciscan priest. He will take the name of Junípero, from the name of the acolyte of Saint Francis. His main ministry from 1740 to 1749 was professor of sacred theology and philosophy at the Lullian University of Palma, Majorca, but he felt that God was calling him to serve in another way. When the call came from New Spain for missionaries, he signed up. On December 17, 1749, after a difficult crossing of the Atlantic, he landed in Veracruz (in present-day Mexico). For the next twenty years he served communities, primarily the Pame Indians, who were already Catholic. His dream had always been to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who had never heard it before, finally granting his wish in late June 1769, a few days’ journey south of San Diego. His feast day is July 1.
Today, Catholics know Saint Junípero Serra by many nicknames – patron of vocations, father of the California missions, apostle of California, evangelizer of the West, founding father of the United States and the first Hispanic saint in the United States. July 1 was celebrated in various ways.
Camino Serra is an 85-mile route that is done in eight days, starting June 23. The pilgrimage connects Mission Santa Clara de Asís (1777) and Mission Santa Cruz (1791). Pilgrims continue to Mission San Carlos Borromeo (1771), where Mass was celebrated at the Sanctuary of Saint Junípero Serra on the Feast Day of the Apostle of California, July 1. Camino Serra is a ministry of the Legionary Community of Our Lady of Santa Clara.
The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship sponsored the world premiere of a new mass composed by Frank La Rocca, in honor of Saint Junipero Serra. The Missa Sancti Juniperi Serra was celebrated by the Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone at the Mission Dolores Basilica. Built in 1918, the basilica sits next to Mission San Francisco de Asís, the 6th of California’s 21 missions. The mission was consecrated by Saint Junípero Serra’s protege, Father Francisco Palóu, on October 9, 1776, and the current building was completed in 1791, making it the oldest intact mission and oldest structure in the city. and San Francisco County. Indian Ohlone motifs decorate the ceiling.
The Mission Dolores basilica seats 800 people and the nearly packed crowd for the Solemn Pontifical Mass (Missale Romanum 1962) was greeted by a small group of protesters before entering the sacred space. Protesters used megaphones to share slogans such as “Colonizers are burning in hell!” and “Abortion on demand!” to the men, women and children who go to mass (video here).
EWTN aired its first episode of the new series In Search of America’s Catholic Founders on July 1. James Day wrote in a June 25, 2022 National Catholic Register article: “The pilot episode…examines Father Serra’s legacy in light of the push to suppress him as a force for good in the history of California and America.” Archbishop Cordileone is the main interview subject in the EWTN documentary.
Rene Trevino, California Knights of Columbus state deputy for 2022-2023, has chosen Saint Junipero Serra as the patron saint of the state’s next Colombian year. He installed the state officers at Mission San Diego de Alcalá on July 1. The Knights of Columbus, founded in 1882, is a Catholic brotherly relief society with more than 2 million members worldwide. In California, according to the website of Knights of Columbus Council 14754 of St Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Bakersfield, there are 720 councils with just over 79,000 members.
Outgoing SD Dr. Noel Panlilio wrote in his June 2022 post that Brother Trevino “. . . asks us [California members of the Knights of Columbus] prepare to contribute and meet our next challenges with the same spiritual zeal as the first missionaries led by Saint Junípero Serra when they traveled overland to bring Christianity to California and to establish the missionary system beginning with the first nine missions along El Camino Real (Spanish for “The King’s Highway”) which runs from San Diego to San Francisco.”
Christian Clifford is the author of books on the history of the Catholic Church in Mexican-Spanish California. His latest is Pilgrimage: In Search of the REAL California Missions, the story of his 800-mile walk on the California Missions Trail.
In Search of America’s Catholic Founders: St Junipero Serra – www.youtube.com/watch?v=clr7tSFKe_E&t=3s
Mission Dolores, San Francisco, on the feast of St Junipero Serra, 07/01/22 – www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEThjgH2ZgE