“[M]any of us carry currencies in our pockets that contain the images of individuals who we see as heroes, they were the founders of our country, and yet if we judge them from the perspective of our histories then they were human traffickers.”
These words were uttered by
Ruben Mendoza, an archeology professor at CSU Monterey Bay in regards to the upcoming canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra during the Holy Father’s upcoming visit to the U.S. this September. It is worth mentioning that Prof.
Mendoza “was initially hostile to Serra, but changed his view after studying about the blessed and working in the missions himself.”
So who was Fr. Serra and why is he becoming a saint? Well, he was a 36 year-old university professor who left his beautiful home in the Spanish island of Majorca in 1713 to become a missionary in the New World. Pope Francis has praised him as “the evangelizer of the West.”
In 1769 the Franciscan Fr. Serra planted a cross on Presidio Hill and dedicated the first mission of Alta California, San
Diego de Alcalá. Sound familiar? San Diego, land of sun, sand and surf, not to mention Coronado Island. What about
San Francisco? Santa Barbara? San Juan Capistrano? Fr. Serra himself established nine missions, with a total of
twenty-one missions eventually being established along the El Camino Real, from San Diego to Sonoma, a distance of
over 1100 kilometers.
During the last 3 years of his life, at the age of 67, he again visited the missions from San Diego all the way to San
Francisco, that’s one thousand kilometers! All this to Confirm all who had been Baptized. He suffered intensely from
his crippled leg which he had injured while traveling on foot, his preferred mode of transportation, from Mexico City
to Veracruz, as well as from his chest, yet he refused to take any remedies. He confirmed 5309 persons, who, with
but few exceptions, were converted Indigenous peoples. Besides his extraordinary fortitude, his most conspicuous
virtues were his insatiable zeal, love of mortification, self-denial, and absolute confidence in God.
“Controversy over the canonization has stemmed from claims that Serra’s missions enacted forced labor and
conversions as well as corporal punishment. Scholarship on the issue is divided, and Serra supporters contend that
many of the accusations against Serra are rife with misinterpretations and factual errors.”
“I believe that in the end, by virtue of the very attacks that those descendants bring to the table, they have martyred
Junipero Serra and turned him into a saint.” These are the words of Mendoza, who, as mentioned above, is a convert
to Fr. Serra.
St. Paul says in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made
clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”
We may be cracked, not very pretty, clay jars, and even so, God can work through us, bring about good, even make
us good, perhaps we can even reach sainthood and join Blessed Junipero Serra in our Father’s Kingdom.
New and Updated First Communion Dates
St. Raphael School: Sun, May 31st at 3pm at St. Joseph the Worker Parish
St. Cecilia School (Ms. D’Arpino, Geer & Calautti): Sat, June 6 at 2:30pm at St. Joseph the Worker Parish
St. Cecilia School (Ms. D’Aoust, Tassone) & Other Schools: Sun, June 7 at 3pm at St. David Parish
Pre-Authorized Giving (PAG)
Thank you for all you do in support of St. Andre Bessette Parish. The work of our parish is made possible through the giving hearts of parishioners like you. In response to changing lifestyles and demands on time and energy, parishioners have been asking about the Pre-Authorized Giving program. PAG is a new and convenient way you can support your parish. I would like to thank Elvira Foronda for coming out to our parish to explain and introduce the PAG to our parish.