Saint Junipero Serra
When Father Junipero Serra founded California's first mission in 1769, he was 56 years old and asthmatic, with a chronic sore on his leg that troubled him for the rest of his life, and he suffered frequently from other illnesses, as well. He stood just 5 feet, 2 inches, and, as a journalist later wrote, "He certainly didn't look like the man who would one day be known as the Apostle of California." Yet he endured the hardships of the frontier and pressed forward with remarkable determination to fulfill his purpose: to convert the Native Americans of California to Christianity.
In pursuit of that goal, Father Serra walked thousands of miles between San Diego and Monterey and even Mexico City. He also traveled the seas. By the time he died August 28, 1784, in Carmel he had founded nine missions, introduced agriculture and irrigation techniques, and the Spanish language. He had battled governors, bureaucrats and military commanders to secure a system of laws to protect the California Indians from at least some of the injustices inflicted by the Spanish soldiers whose practices often were in conflict with Father Serra's. At the age of 70, and after traveling 24,000 miles, Father Junipero Serra died at Mission San Carlos Borromeo and is buried there under the sanctuary floor.
Serra Club HistoryIn 1935, four Catholic men in Seattle, Washington, interested in promoting vocations to the priesthood and enhancing their spiritual lives, formed a club. They chose Padre (now Blessed) Junipero Serra, the noted 18 th century Franciscan missionary, and founder of many California missions, as their patron and namesake. This small group eventually grew into Serra International.
In 1951, Serra International became aggregated to the Sacred Council for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations.
In 1986, Serra International voted to welcome women as well as men to membership in the organization.
Since it was founded, Serra has chartered over 1100 Serra Clubs in 46 countries on six continents. Serra International is formally recognized by the Holy See as the global lay apostolate for vocations in the Catholic Church.
Serra is a voluntary association of Catholic laymen and laywomen called Serrans. Each Serran is a member of a local Serra Club sanctioned by the Ordinary of the diocese in which the Serra Club is located. Each local Serra club is a member of both a national council and Serra International. Serra International, which is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, links Serra clubs around the world. For more information about Serra International, visit the Serra International website at www.serrainternational.org.
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