Serra’s name, legacy endures 300 years later

Screenshot from Part 1 of "Junipero Serra and the California Missions." If you cue up the 3:45 mark, you will see shortly a local friar talking about Blessed Serra.
Screenshot from Part 1 of “Junipero Serra and the California Missions.” If you cue up the 3:45 mark, you will see shortly a local friar talking about Blessed Serra.

Sunday marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest who led the establishment of catholic missions in California. His legacy lives on today as the inspiration for Serra International, a group of Catholic laity and priests who commit to daily prayer for future vocations and affirmation of current religious vocations.

The Diocese of Phoenix has three Serra Clubs who hold lunch meetings twice a month to pray for and learn from priests and men and women religious. Join their meeting. First timers are free. Then you can establish a membership if you feel called.

  • 12:10-1:15 p.m. first and third Tuesdays at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, 400 E. Monroe Street in Phoenix (602) 326-7882
  • 12:10-1:15 p.m. second and fourth Tuesdays at Native New Yorker in Mesa (480) 558-3327
  • 12:10-1:15 p.m. second and fourth Tuesdays at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery in west Phoenix, 8502 W. Pinchot Ave. (access from Thomas Road) (480) 777-2226

Local Catholics aren’t the only ones who honor the work of Blessed Junipero Serra. You’ll find depictions of him in museums across the country and documentaries:

  • Exhibition at Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif. — Open through Jan. 6, 2014,  this historic exhibition covers the life and times of Father Junipero Serra from his birth in Petra, Mallorca to his death in Carmel, Calif. The exhibition also goes on to explain the repercussions of Father’s Serra’s life and the effects of the Mission period on the people of California. Take a quick tour:

His video gives a small taste of the wealth of material on display at the Huntington Library. Gregory Lynch Jr. captured this video of the opening of the exhibition.

  • Virtual museum of the City of San Francisco — His statue stands in the city’s Golden Gate Park. Read bio.
  • Capitol Hill — California presented the National Statuary Hall Collection with a bronze statue in 1931. Read bio.
    On a side note, each state has submitted two items with Arizona submitting a statue of Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit missionary who played a key role in the state’s early Church. A bronze statue of Father Damien was a gift from Hawaii
  • Serra Museum in San Diego — Part of the San Diego History Center. Info. It stands atop the hill recognized as the site where California began — where Father Junípero Serra and a group of soldiers established Alta California’s first mission and presidio in 1769.
  • Biography through PBS’ “New Perspectives on the West” — It’s a text heavy bio, but highlights mention the nearly 5,000 people he converted in the nine missions he established. It doesn’t shy away from harsh truths either including the many opposed to his beatification due to the harsh conditions of mission life.
  • Junipero Serra also has a county park named after him in San Mateo, Calif. and a library branch in Los Angeles.