St. Junipero Serra, Pray for Us
Dear Parishioners of Our Beloved St. Paul:
Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! It was 40 years ago, on September 14, 1975, that the first native born citizen of the United States was numbered among the saints, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. On Wednesday of this week there will be the first canonization to take place on the soil of the United States of America. The Pope will solemnly canonize St. Junipero Serra, The Father of California. He is the only saint whose statue is found on the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC. Who was this remarkable man?
California is rightly known as one of the most beautiful and productive lands in all the world. Its luscious fruits and wine, olives and ranches have made it world renowned. But it was not always so. At one time before the great work of evangelization there were no roads, no gardens, no fields of grain, no orchards, no vineyards, no olive groves, no permanent settlements. There were no ranches, no dairies, no stables. Its inhabitants lived in grass huts and lived on rodents and grasshoppers. Such was California before the grace of the redemption and the Cross of Christ was brought there.
But into this desperate world there came the brown robe who was all but 5’2” and who walked with a limp. He had journeyed thousands of miles from Vera Cruz in Mexico to the Bay which he named in honor of the founder of his order, San Francisco. St. Junipero Serra was a son of St. Francis and he was among the bravest of men who ever lived. No heart ever burned greater than his in his love for the native people of California. He came to teach them, correct them, protect them, and love them with a love they had never known before, the love of Christ the Redeemer. He came to bring them the sacraments and save their souls for Christ.
His goal was to create a golden trail of missions from south to north, from San Diego to San Francisco. Each mission would be 20 miles from the other – approximately a day’s walk. He chose the lushest areas to found the missions, to teach the natives agriculture and husbandry. Soon they abandoned their diet of rodents and grasshoppers and dined on citrus and every other fruit, the rich oil of the queen of fruits, the olive, and drank the fruit of the vine. But above all they were fed with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Junipero wished to create a united people in this new land, for he had no notion of race. While on the East coast of North America the Protestant colonists were enslaving and killing the Native peoples whom they called Indians, St. Junipero wrote to the Vice Roy of Mexico, begging him to send Spanish men north and to take wives among the Indian women. St. Junipero built the great missions of California, still visited today with their vineyards and adobe chapels. The world has never known the likes of St. Junipero Serra again.
PARISH PICNIC: Our parish picnic was held last Saturday. Despite the rain which came after everyone had eaten, it was a great success. I am most grateful to Jesse Cromer and the whole picnic committee who worked so well and in a heroic way to bring us all together. We are grateful to the Troops of St. George, one of our newest parish organizations, for their work in setting up and taking down. Because of the rain our 50/50 could not be completed. The little that was collected was split in two as we usually do. Half went to our parish needs and half went to St. Vincent de Paul in their work for the poor.
Nos cum prole pia,
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda