Franciscan Priest and Missionary (1730-1784)
+ José Miguel Serra was born in Petra, Spain.
+ In 1730, he entered the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans) and received the religious name Junipero. After his ordination, he was awarded a doctorate in theology and spent several years teaching at University of Palma de Mallorca.
+ Junipero was sent to “New Spain” (modern-day Mexico), spending 10 years serving as a traveling preacher and administrator.
+ In 1767, he was chosen to serve as president of the missions of Lower California and founded the first mission of Upper California at San Diego in 1769; in the years that followed, he established nine other missions in California.
+ Padre Serra was, in many ways, a man of his time as he followed the traditional methods for managing the missions. Accounts of his life, however, reveal how frequently he came into conflict with the Spanish military officials as he opposed their harsh treatment of the indigenous peoples. It is believed that, as a result of his labors, more than 6,000 Native Americans received the Sacrament of Baptism.
+ Saint Junipero Serra died in 1784 and was canonized in 2015.
At the canonization of Saint Junipero, Pope Francis observed that Padre Serra was always guided by the motto Siempre Adelante! Always Forward! The Holy Father reflected, “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.”
O God, who by your ineffable mercy have been pleased through the labors of your priest Saint Junipero Serra to count many American peoples within your Church, grant by his intercession that we may so join our hearts to you in love, as to carry always and everywhere before all people the image of your Only Begotten Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.