Today 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 us!
The parishes in L.A. name after Blessed Junipero Serra are in Camarillo and Lancaster.