Pope to canonize Californian Franciscan missionary

Posted by Siobhan O'Neill Meluso
Thursday 22, January 2015 | Category:   Mission & Evangelization,Mary and the Saints
 Blessed Junipero Serra, O.F.M., founded nine of the 21 Spanish missions in California.

Pope Francis announced at a press conference that Blessed Junipero Serra, O.F.M., founder of California's first missions, would be canonized.

"Blessed Serra's canonization will be the latest in a systematic action from Pope Francis to give a boost to evangelization efforts throughout the world," Catholic News Agency reports.

This announcement was given the day after Pope Francis celebrated Sri Lanka's first saint, Joseph Vaz, a missionary who evangelized through difficult terrain.

Saint Joseph Vaz and Serra are "people who did a lot of evangelization and who are in keeping with the spirituality and theology of Evangelii Gaudium. That's the reason I chose them," Pope Francis said.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles reflected on Francis' announcement in the Angelus: "Blessed Junípero is one of my spiritual heroes and a giant figure in the evangelization of the New World. He is one of California’s founders and he is associated with the origins of Los Angeles and its original name, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula, “The Town of Our Lady of the Angels of Porciuncula.

"I believe Padre Serra’s canonization will help the Church’s new evangelization. It will remind us that our state and our country and all the Americas are built on Christian foundations.

So we thank God today for this special moment of grace. We rejoice with the universal Church, with the Franciscan religious order that Father Serra belonged to, and with the Catholic faithful in the two parishes and high schools that we have named for our new saint, Blessed Junípero Serra."

Learn more on the Franciscan order and the many provinces here.

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