July 1, 2020
St. Junipero Serra, Pray for Us
It was nearly 45 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. During his apostolic visit to the United States of America in September 2015, Pope Francis canonized St. Junipero Serra, the Father of California. It was the first and only canonization to take place on the soil of the United States of America. St. Junipero Serra 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 by the Catholic Missionaries 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 planted 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 in Holy Communion.
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.
Sadly, a beautiful statue of St. Junipero Serra which was on display in the city he founded -San Francisco – was torn down last weekend by individuals who, sadly, do not know the history of California and this wonderful saint. The Archbishop of San Francisco, accompanied by priests, deacons and faithful, went to the site to bless it and make reparation. We must pray that the desecration of the images of Our Lord, Blessed Mother, and the saints will cease.
St. Junipero Serra’s feast is kept today, July 1st. May he speak good things on our behalf as he stands before the throne of God.
FIELD OF HONOR: Last Saturday we had the second annual dedication and blessing of our parish Field of Honor. We are so grateful to our dedicated Knights of Columbus and Squires who labored very arduously to make this beautiful field. Many parishioners and friends were present, as well as distinguished guests. It was even shown on News 12. The Field will remain for several weeks. So many cars that pass on Cedar Swamp Rd. stop to admire it.
SCHEDULE: We are pleased that it has been three weeks that our Church has been open for the Celebration of Mass. Bishop Barres has granted a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass so no one should feel obligated to attend. The Masses are offered at 5PM on Saturday, and 8.30 and 10.30 on Sunday morning. Confessions are 4.00 to 4.45PM on Saturday afternoon. Weekday Mass is celebrated in the Church at 9.00AM on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Please follow the state and diocesan directives when attending Mass regarding masks and social distancing. I have been so pleased to see that since the time of the weekday Mass has been changed from 8AM to 9AM so many more people are attending. There are more coming to weekday Mass now during the Covid-19 than ever came at 8AM even before the epidemic and quarantine.
FIRST FRIDAY AND FIRST SATURDAY: Friday of this week is the First Friday of the month. Mass will be celebrated in the Church at 9.00AM followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and closing with Benediction at 12 noon. Then there will be a special Holy Hour in the Church beginning at 7PM and concluding with Benediction at 8PM On Saturday July 4th Mass will be celebrated at 9AM followed by the praying of the Holy Rosary for the peace of our nation and for peace throughout the whole world.
Like everything else in our lives, the Pandemic has changed Church practice and scheduling. We thank you for your cooperation and for your generosity.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda