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Italian pilgrimage:
History, traditions,
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Pilgrims can walk
in the footsteps of
St. Junipero Serra

placeholder April 11, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA

Andrew Galvan, a California Indian and curator of Old Mission Dolores, carries a reliquary of St. Junipero Serra as Pope Francis celebrates the missionary's canonization outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on Sept. 23.

Pilgrims can walk in the footsteps of St. Junipero Serra

A stone statue of Blessed Junipero Serra by artist Arthur Putnam is seen in the cemetery and garden at Mission San Francisco de Asis, also known as Old Mission Dolores, in San Francisco.

On Sept. 23, 2015, Pope Francis canonized St. Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions. This year, the Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs are honoring the occasion with two pilgrimages in the footsteps of St. Junipero.

The first, which takes place this month, will journey to Mallorca, Spain, to St. Junipero's birthplace, childhood church and to the hilltop shrine commemorating the place where he preached his final sermon before departing for The New World.

The second pilgrimage, July 2-10, will include the nine missions St. Junipero founded: San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, San Gabriel, San Buenaventura, San Luis Obispo, San Antonio, San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, Santa Clara and Mission Dolores in San Francisco.


Preparing for pilgrimage
• Read about the life of the saint at the mission.

• "Junipero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary," by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert Senkewicz, is an excellent resource.

— Suggested by Andrew Galvan, pilgrimage leader

Day by day
Franciscan Pilgrimage to the California Missions

July 2
Arrive in Los Angeles

July 3 Mission San Diego and Mission of San Juan Capistrano

July 4 San Gabriel Mission and San Buenaventura Mission

July 5 San Luis Obispo Mission

July 6 San Antonio Mission

July 7 San Carlos Borromeo Mission and Monterey Presidio Chapel

July 8 Santa Clara Mission

July 9 San Francisco Mission Dolores

Journeying with the pilgrims will be Rev. Andre Cirino, OFM; Rev. Joseph Schwab, OFM; and Andrew Galvan, curator of Mission Dolores.

Galvan, who is an Ohlone with roots at Mission Dolores and Mission San Jose in Fremont, presented the relic of St. Junipero Serra at the canonization Mass in Washington, DC, last fall. His work on the cause for Serra's canonization spanned more than 30 years.

Galvan says of St. Junipero, "I know him. I read him. I pray to him. I understand him."

He understands, too, the cultural issues regarding the native people, whose stories will also be a part of the pilgrims' journey. St. Junipero, he said, showed "a genuine concern for my ancestors."

Consider a pilgrimage, as Galvan suggests, as "a rolling retreat."

"On the pilgrimage, at each mission we focus on the saint at that mission," Galvan said. "We talk about historically the native people at that place, and the history of the mission, and then we bring in Junipero Serra as the founder."

Galvan said he has been working his way through "Junipero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary," by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert Senkewicz, "to be able to have ready readings of the writings of Junipero Serra at that particular place."

The Franciscan, Galvan said, "at all the missions kept a very good diary."

"We put Serra in the context of setting up this mission, what he saw there, what he desired or wanted to have happen there," Galvan said.

But missions do not belong solely to history. "We talk about what's going on currently at the mission," said Galvan, who was commissioned last fall by the California Catholic bishops and the Franciscan Province of St. Barbara to lead a cultural study of the missions. This includes a review of displays and signage, and updating artwork and presentations on mission sites and materials.

This is the 10th year Galvan has led Franciscan pilgrimages to the California missions.

The pilgrimage begins in Los Angeles, and pilgrims will have accommodations on their journey at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, the St. Francis Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista and the San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville.

Masses will be celebrated along the way, including in the chapel at San Juan Capistrano Mission, the only remaining chapel in which St. Junipero himself celebrated Mass, and at the saint's tomb at San Carlos Borromeo Mission in Carmel.

For information on the pilgrimage to the California missions, contact www.franciscanpilgrimages.com or dial 414-427-0570.

"The Spirit Within Saint Junipero"
Photographs by Craig Alan Huber
Essays by Robert M. Senkewicz

Veritas Editions, $75

Armed with a large-format view camera, photographer Craig Alan Huber set out on a journey that in many ways mimics that of his subject himself. To capture the exquisitely detailed black-and-white images that grace the pages of "The Spirit of St. Junipero," the photographer traveled to Junipero Serra's homeland of Mallorca, Spain; Mexico, where he served in established missions; and California, where the middle-aged friar's quest to preach the Gospel to the unbaptized was realized.

Huber's photographs are complemented by equally elegant essays by Santa Clara University's Robert M. Senkewicz, professor of history. The quotes in his essays are attributed to "Junipero Serra: California, Indians and the Transformation of a Missionary," which Senkewicz wrote with Rose Marie Beebe.

"The book moves beyond the controversy to celebrate what we can all enjoy about the California Missions," said Jeffrey Burns, director of the Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of San Diego. Burns was ordained a deacon in the Diocese of Oakland in 2003 and last served at St. Lawrence O'Toole-St. Cyril Parish in Oakland.

Michele Jurich

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