Head out on the highway: Come visit the California missions

Each one is unique, with its own stories, but all were (and continue to be — 19 of the 21 are active parishes) centered on sharing the Gospel

I have faint memories of the California missions from my childhood. I remember working on a replica of a mission with my dad in the 4th grade (a requirement of California’s curriculum). I visited the Mission Santa Cruz in elementary school on a weekend vacation with a friend. In high school in the 1980s, I don’t remember learning much about Saint Junípero Serra, the apostle of … [Read more...]

Watercolors of Central Coast missions found

On view at San Juan Bautista through March

The following comes from a Dec. 16 story by Frank Perez on Benitolink.com. Tucked between pages of a hardbound book shelved in the family home or filling a sketchbook stored in the attic, the watercolor paintings of Central Coast missions remained hidden from public view, their location only known to the artist, the late Nancy Burtch Hauk of Pacific Grove. A new exhibition … [Read more...]

Intentional illumination

Archaeologist at Cal State Monterey Bay says earliest Catholic churches in the Americas may have been built using geometry and sunlight to highlight liturgical and religious events

Early American Catholic churches may have been built using geometry and sunlight to highlight liturgical and religious events. Ruben G. Mendoza, an archaeologist and chair of the School of Social, Behavioral and Global Studies at California State University Monterey Bay, contends these "illuminations" were intentional, perhaps part of an evangelization effort by New World … [Read more...]

Another statue of St. Junipero Serra vandalized

Statue at Old Santa Barbara Mission decapitated and splashed with red paint, latest in a series of incidents targeting the missionary who brought the faith to the West Coast

A statue of St. Junipero Serra at the Old Santa Barbara Mission in California has been decapitated and splashed with red paint. The bronze statue was vandalized overnight between Sunday and Monday. An 18th century Spanish Franciscan, Serra is remembered in Catholic circles as the missionary who brought the faith to the West Coast of the Americas, having founded nine missions … [Read more...]

History of Christmas still celebrated at California missions

A 'miracle' has been ocurring at Mission San Juan Bautista for 200 years

The following comes from a December 1 Chicago Tribune article by Jay Jones: On the winter solstice, as the sun rises in the dip between two hills, the amazing accomplishment of some 18th-century priests becomes crystal clear. Through an open window at Mission San Juan Bautista, a brilliant beam of light enters, bathing the altar in gold before traveling directly up the … [Read more...]

Should El Camino Real be honored?

Indian leaders oppose efforts by California Mission Foundation to have route linking state's missions declared a UNESCO Heritage Site

The following comes from an August Amah Matsun article by Cathy Castillo: A proposal by the California Mission Foundation to have the state’s famed El Camino Real route declared a UNESCO Heritage Site is being bitterly opposed by state Indians who said it would only “honor and glorify the brutal conquest” of Indian lands. “Our tribe and many other California Tribes … [Read more...]

The golden era of California mission music

Loud drumming, women, and children singers within adobe walls

The following comes from a May 29 story in the Catholic Sentinel, a publication of the Oregon Catholic Press. …. Steven Ottományi, a California liturgical music composer and musicologist, has been studying the music sung two centuries ago in those mission churches, where Spanish Franciscans melded medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, classical and native music customs to help … [Read more...]

Ventura candlelight procession honors canonization of Saint Junipero Serra

Archbishop Gomez gave the homily at Mass attended by 300

The following comes from a November 21 Ventura County Star article by Megan Diskin: The 300 or so people attending a special Mass on Saturday night were led to embrace a time of healing and love at Mission San Buenaventura as they celebrated the recent canonization of Junípero Serra. Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, head of the nation's largest Catholic archdiocese, … [Read more...]

California’s explicitly Christian heritage

If the goal is to eliminate Christian symbols and references from official materials, an enormous amount of work remains to be done

The following comes from an October 31 Deseret News article by William Hamblin and Daniel Peterson: From 1957 through 2004, the official seal of Los Angeles County, California, centered on a standing image of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards. In 2004, the county board of supervisors, faced with claims by the American Civil Liberties Union … [Read more...]

On a new Saint and negative press

The canonization of Fr. Junipero Serra should have been a cause for great rejoicing for all Catholics and for the people of California, and, well, for everybody else. But it wasn't.

The following comes from an October 29 Catholic World Report article by Dale Ahlquist:   For most of the last two hundred plus years, newly canonized Father Junipero Serra had a good reputation among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Considered “The Man Who Founded California”, the state honored him with a statue in the U.S. Capitol. He founded the first nine of … [Read more...]