The Serra Club is named in honor of St. Junípero Serra, the patron saint of vocations to Church ministry. He played an instrumental role in building the Church on the West Coast of America. By the time of his death, he had built 21 new missions and converted thousands to the faith.
A Spanish missionary who is buried in California, Miguel José Serra was born on the Mediterranean island of Majorca. He entered the Franciscans in 1730, taking the name Junípero to honor an original companion of St. Francis of Assisi.
He taught after being ordained, but in 1749 volunteered for mission work among the Indians of Mexico and Texas. In 1767, the Franciscans under Fr. Serra took charge of the missions in Baja California, and in 1769 he accompanied a military expedition into Alta (upper) California, where he founded nine of the 21 missions stretching from San Diego to Sonoma.
Canonized by Pope Francis in 2015 on U.S. soil, he is the inspiration for Serra International, which encourages and affirms vocations and has three Serra Clubs in the Diocese of Phoenix.
A statue of St. Junípero represents California in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, one of four Catholic priests represented in the hall.
Known for his phrase “Siempre adelante, nunca atrás (always forward, never backward),” he is a patron of the diocese’s “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante” campaign.