Keep Moving Forward: this was the motto of Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest canonised by Pope Francis during his recent journey to Cuba and the USA. In his homily, Pope Francis said that this was no empty motto but a ‘reality which shaped the way he lived’. Fr Serra ‘kept moving forward, because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we be able to say: Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!’ Amen to that!!
Known as the Apostle of California, Junipero Serra was born in Majorca, Spain, 24 November 24, 1713. He became a Franciscan, was a lecturer in theology in Palma, Majorca, before setting out for Mexico in 1749 where he remained for 18 years before moving on to California,
Serra spent the next 15 years of his life in Upper California. founding nine missions, some of which are names well known to us today: San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Clara. Much of his ministry was to the Native Americans. Serra International, an association for the promotion of vocations, was established in his honor.
However the decision to canonise Fr Serra was criticised by some groups who believe that he coerced some Native Americans to convert to Catholicism and that he imposed harsh conditions on agricultural workers.