BLESSED JUNIPERO SERRA
July 1st is the feast day of Blessed Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest from Mallorca who at the age of 55, with a limp in his gait and afflicted with asthma, walked up and down what is now the State of California evangelizing the indigenous people, teaching them European methods of farming and defending them against those who would have taken advantage of them. He is associated with the establishment of the California Missions, many of which still function as parishes today. The earthly remains of Father Serra are interred in the Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, California.
At the time of his death, Blessed Serra had baptized 6,000 Indians, a number which comprises approximately 10 per cent of the native population of California at the time. The Serra International website states: Between the years of 1796 and 1784, Father Serra made six voyages by sea totaling 5,400 miles. He traveled by land the distance between Monterey and San Francisco eight times, Monterey and San Antonio 11 times, His longest journey by land was from Monterey to Mexico City. In total, he traveled well over 5,500 miles by land.
His motto was, “Siempre adelante, nunca retredecer,” which in English means, “Always to go forward, never to turn back?.
Blessed Junipero Serra, Apostle of California, pray for usl
What I wish to say first of all is that, thank God, I am in good health, and that the famine which has laid heavily on all this country and been felt by so many poor people has hardly touched any of the Fathers, my companions, or myself…
Those who are the main supporters of our people are the gentiles. Thanks to them, we live because God so wills it; moreover, we must not forget that the milk from the cows and the vegetables from the garden have been very big factors in keeping these foundations going; but these two sources of food are becoming scarce. But, when all is said and done, I do not regret that these missions were founded and your reverence should not regret it either. None of the ministers who live in them have any criticisms on the matter. The complaint has only been with those without missions on account of the difficulty there has been to go ahead with their foundation.
And, above all, in regard to the promise made by God in these modem times to Our Father Saint Francis – as our Seraphic Mother Mary of Jesus declares – that the gentiles, at the mere sight of his sons, will be converted to our Holy Catholic Faith, it is my opinion that we are now seeing it with our eyes and touching it with our hands. Because if, at the present time, they are not as yet all Christians, it is, in my judgment, only for want of a knowledge of their language, a trouble of long standing with me which I have never been granted the grace to overcome, it seems to me, because of my many sins.
Yet, in San Diego, time has overcome the difficulty, and they already have baptized adults and solemnized marriages. And here, too, we are not far from arriving at the same state of improvement, since the children are beginning to express themselves in Castilian … To sum it all up: I put my trust in God that everything will turn out well.
Blessed Junipero SERRA (1713-1784)