Some years ago when I was visiting my sister and her husband in California, we took a drive down the Coast. It was my first time in California and I was only vaguely aware of the California missions and their history. We stopped at the Church of St. Charles Borromeo in Carmel and I went inside and knelt at the altar rail. When I looked down, there right in front of me, was the tombstone of Father Junipero Serra, the famous Franciscan Saint who evangelized California and who either established or cared for those missions – 21 in all. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There in front of me, beneath the sanctuary floor, were the earthly remains of a saint!
Today the Church celebrates the feast day of Padre Serra, who it is said baptized 6,000 souls. He is the patron saint of vocations, and promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life is the work of the Serra Club which is called by his name.
Click on this link to see the inspiring story of this holy man: http://www.catholic-church.org/serra-beth/serra-4.htm
I can’t help but wonder if Californians ever think of the Franciscan priest who laid the foundation for their famous cities: San Francisco (St. Francis), San Bernardino (St. Bernard), Los Angeles (Holy Angels) etc. He also laid the foundation of the Catholic Faith in California and it spread into other parts of the country.
If you are considering a call to the priesthood or religious life, pray to Blessed Junipero Serra. Ask him to help you in your discernment. And let us pray for the people of California and for ourselves that his deep love of God and his tireless missionary zeal may inspire a deep spiritual renewal in the hearts of each one of us. Blessed Junipero Serra, pray for us!