University of San Diego renames Serra Hall

Campus building will now be called Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall; name of first Native American Roman Catholic saint added

Serra Hall now will be known as Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall. (image from Luke Garrett / The USD Vista)

While Junipero Serra is considered a hero by many and was declared a saint by Pope Francis in 2015, many Native Americans contend that Serra worked to destroy the cultures and beliefs of those who lived in California before the missionaries arrived. Stanford University last year announced that it was changing the names of two buildings that honored Serra.

The University of San Diego on Friday announced a different approach. What has been called Serra Hall will now be renamed Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was the first Native American Roman Catholic saint. A statement from President James T. Harris III said, “It is hoped that by placing these two Catholic saints together, we will recognize that indigenous peoples preceded the Catholic missionaries who settled here. It is also meant to encourage continued dialogue on the important topics of colonialization, the spread of the Catholic faith and the impact both had on Native American populations.”

The university will also rename the Mission Crossroads Building to Mata’yuum, which means “gathering place” in the language of the Kumeyaay Nation.

Full story at Inside Higher Ed.


  1. Fr. John says

    Another PC move following Stanford’s removal of the Serra name. With his logic, the Jesuits will need to rename a bunch of buildings…the Jesuits owned slaves in Southern Maryland for work in their extensive tobacco fields. Lincoln’s name should also be removed…he signed a death warrant for the summary execution of 300 Sioux. George Washington? Slaveholder. Thomas Jefferson? James Madison? Andrew Jackson? All Slaveholders. This “I am offended at something that happened 200 years ago” is just starting, folks.

    • 38 (not 300) Dakota Sioux executed, none summarily: Military tribunal condemned 303. Lincoln reviewed then pared to 38. The crime? 450 to 800 settlers, mostly women and children, massacred including rapes and hideous mutilations.

  2. I believe Jefferson formally emancipated all his slaves as part of his will [according to the tour guide at Monticello] . The ‘other half’ of Catholic history has more than a few skeletons in the closet.
    Kudos to USD.

  3. Clinton R. says

    The same University of San Diego that has a yearly drag show. How is this school considered “Catholic”? Seems like a PC secular institution to me.

  4. helen wheels says

    meaning NO disrespect to Saint Kateri but USD
    just might start a trend for example:
    Laurel Hall ==> Laurel & Hardy Hall
    Amos Hall ==> Amos & Andy Hall
    Bolt Hall (Cal Berkeley) ==> Nuts & Bolts Hall

    • Silent Observer says

      The creeping secularism at USD started when the crucifixes and crosses were removed from the classrooms years ago. The illuminated “Merry Christmas” sign at the entrance to the campus was replaced by “Seasons Greetings” — and only at the urging of a few concerned observers was the Christmas greeting finally restored. I also personally encountered a “Wiccan” whose office at USD was festooned with pagan symbols. I was deeply disturbed that this person would have been hired at a “Catholic” university and be allowed to advertise her paganism without censure. It stands to reason then that Fr. Serra’s legacy should be erased and replaced.

  5. helen wheels says

    by the way,
    as a Native American (I was BORN here)
    I am offended that the snowflakes are
    offended – perhaps some other “native”
    americans share my feelings

  6. Pedro Banuelos Virgen says

    It is an understandable attempt at a middle road, however the point is that St. Serra is part of California (pre-US) history and unique to the California Heritage. St. Tekakwitha, honored though she is, is not part of the California Heritage (indigenous, Catholic or otherwise) but of the Eastern US Historical story. This unfortunately makes her inclusion appear awkward and political, doing her a disservice; but in today’s climate unavoidable. A more historically appropriate Saint would have been a contemporaneity Mexican Saint, but that would have been too historically correct to be politic.

    If this brings peace and Glory to God, so be it. May St. Tekakwitha and St. Serra prays for us and for this country.

  7. St Kateri would advise to Takakwitha grain of salt.

  8. I do not know, but I rather like this idea, and I do not think St. Junipero Serra would mind; after all, he helped keep the peace during his life. Perhaps the two of them together ( Junipero and Tekewitha) brought this about up there. Perhaps it will also help the country come together more — him from the west, she from the east — instead of being so divided. If we share a land, we should share saints. Kind of reminds me of the Dominican story of Blessed Diana and Bless Jordan.

  9. helen wheels says

    USD simply following the injunction
    of the Indianapolis 500:
    “Start your Injuns'”

  10. Kind of an expected move from a culture steeped in identity politics. Using St. Kateri as a means to somehow sanctify JS without any meaningful or coherent connection other than she is of a primitive indigenous people and separated in history by a century and an entire continent. Reducing the saint to useful virtue signaling is beyond the pale and I would be so bold as to suggest racist.

    • Why not just rename another building just for her and not signal that she requires validation by attaching her to a white European male? Let her stand on equal footing with Serra, side by side. It’s a big Church that isn’t bound by progressive incoherency.

      • I thought about that, but they are probably still arguing about which “people of diversity” they want the other halls to be named after — got to include everyone you know, or someone is bound to complain.

  11. TX gringa says

    St. Kateri – First North American Native Saint — She should have been the first canonized on US soil, not Serra.

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