During his first public liturgy on U.S. soil, Pope Francis proclaimed Junípero Serra a saint last week. The Mass took place before a large crowd on the east portico of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the nation’s capital and was celebrated in Spanish.
At the beginning of the Sept. 23 Mass, Fr. Ken Laverone, OFM, vice-postulator for the cause of the canonization of Junípero Serra and Provincial Vicar of St. Barbara Province, proclaimed in Spanish the biography of the 18th century Spanish friar. Andy Galvan, an Ohlone Native American who has promoted the canonization of Junípero for more than 25 years, presented the reliquary to Pope Francis.
After Pope Francis proclaimed Junípero a saint, Fr. Ken and Fr. Melvin Jurisich, OFM, who served as General Visitor to Holy Name Province in preparation for the 2014 Provincial Chapter, greeted the pontiff. They were joined by Br. Giovangiuseppe Califano, OFM, head of the Office of Postulation of Saints for the Franciscan Order in Rome.
“Fr. Junípero Serra was the embodiment of ‘a Church which goes forth,’ a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God.” said Pope Francis in his homily during the liturgy. “Junípero Serra left his native land and its way of life. He was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters.
“Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it,” the pope continued. “Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people. Father Serra had a motto that inspired his life and work, a saying he lived his life by: siempre adelante! Keep moving forward! For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel… he kept moving forward because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we be able to say: forward! Let’s keep moving forward!”
On Sept. 24, General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for the canonization of St. Junípero at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington.
“I think this is the message of the pope: first, by our very nature, all of us are missionaries. That means everyone, not just those in religious life. Every baptized Christian is a missionary,” said Fr. Michael in a video produced by the Franciscan Monastery. “The second step? We have something to share. We’re not going to convince people that what they’re doing, who they are, is no good. You have to tell them that God is present in their lives. The third thing we have to do is bring our story back. We have to listen to the experience of those who have gone out. We will be transformed not by what we give, but what God will offer to us in that exchange.”
A video about the life of St. Junípero was produced by the Academy of American Franciscan History.
Other news from the English-speaking Conference includes:
- A link to the pope’s interview on ABC’s 20/20. One of the sites to which Pope Francis spoke was Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, run by the friars of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province.
- An interview with the General Minister about the future of the Franciscan Order
- A New York Times article about the Italian town of Bagnoregio, St. Bonaventure’s birthplace
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Pope to Canonize Junípero Serra During Fall Visit to U.S.” — Jan. 20, 2015, HNP Today
- “Melvin Jurisich Appointed Visitor to Province” — Oct. 24, 2012, HNP Today
- “Friars Gather in Puerto Rico for Franciscan History Meeting” — March 18, 2015, HNP Today