Junipero Serra: A Saint of Pope Francis
Conclusion of Archbishop Gomez’ series on Padre Serra.
First, the Father Serra of history that we have been talking about is far different than the Father Serra we often read about in the newspapers and even in the pages of the historians. So as his canonization gets closer, we should try to learn more about him.
Second, in the witness and writings of Father Serra, we meet a man who was one of the true “founders” of America.
Father Serra helps us to appreciate in a new way that the missionaries were America’s true “founders.” In him we see that America’s origins were not about politics, conquest or plunder. The deepest motives of Father Serra and the missionaries who founded America were religious, spiritual and humanitarian.
In his witness and writings, we see the outlines for a new vision for America’ future — in a time of globalization and cultural encounter. We still have to work out that vision, but I believe Father Serra would have us working to build an America that promotes the encounter of cultures and seeks to protect the sanctity and dignity of the human person.
Third, I think Father Serra shows us “a way” for the Church — and especially for the Church in America.
Father Serra offers the Church an inspiring missionary spirituality, one that is rooted in the Church’s missionary identity and the missionary identity of every disciple.
Father Serra’s belief in the missionary’s noble vocation helps us to understand that every Christian is meant to be a missionary disciple — called to play a role in what Father Serra called “the spiritual conquest of this New World.”
Finally, Father Serra teaches us that the Church’s mission of evangelization is a mission of mercy. As we have seen, Father Serra had great compassion and love for the native peoples. He was a man of mercy — not only in his words but also in his actions.
And that is the Church’s mission in our day — to proclaim God’s love and mercy for every person and to protect the vulnerable and the weak.
As we can see, Father Serra’s witness is reflected in some of the key themes of Pope Francis’ pontificate — especially the themes of mercy and missionary discipleship.
So it is fitting that Junípero Serra will be remembered as a saint of Pope Francis.
Let me close with some final words from this new saint of Pope Francis. These words are both an inspiring summation of Father Serra’s sense of his missionary vocation and a call to the Church today to follow his example:
“Let us make good use of time. Our steps should be in conformity with the vocation to which God has called us; let us work out our spiritual salvation with fear and trembling, and with a burning love and zeal seek for the salvation of our brethren and neighbors. And may all the glory be to our Great God.”
[For more on Archbishop Gomez’ talk, go to the Los Angeles Tidings Online Website:
– See more at: http://www.missionsandiego.org/archbishop-jose-gomez-on-father-junipero-serra-the-spiritual-dicvover-of-the-new-world/#sthash.aVbL8niZ.dpuf