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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, There is much excitement about the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the United States, as the Holy Father will be coming to our country for the first time in his life. The initial reason for the papal visit was to attend the World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Philadelphia starting on Sept. 22. Taking advantage of the pope's presence during this time, several other events have been added to his schedule, including a visit to the White House and an address that the Holy Father will deliver to a joint session of Congress. While in Washington, D.C., Pope Francis will canonize St. Junipero Serra at an outdoor Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday, Sept. 23. This will be the first time ever that a saint will be canonized on American soil. Junipero Serra was born on the Island of Majorca, off the coast of Spain in 1713. He became a Franciscan in 1731. After obtaining a doctorate in theology in 1742, he remained in the Franciscan commu- nity at Majorca for almost 20 years, rising to prominence as a preacher, teacher and scholar. Eventually drawn to missionary work, Father Serra set sail for the New World in 1749, never to return home. It probably should come as no surprise that even the canonization of a saint can- not be met without controversy in our country. As the Los Angeles Times reported on Sept. 11, "Many Native Americans have protested his sainthood because the Spanish flogged those who disobeyed and captured those who tried to leave the mis- sions, while bringing diseases that devas- tated the indigenous population." An article in the August 2015 issue of the St. Anthony Messenger addressed this question with the title, "Junipero Serra: Saint or Scoundrel?" According to this article, "Serra decried the sexual promiscu- ity of the Spanish military toward native women. He traveled throughout the mis- sion chain at great physical cost, adminis- tering the sacraments and advising other missionaries, some of whom had difficulty with the extreme isolation of missionary life in California. He regularly took ink to paper to call for more support and supplies, which often were lost at sea or diverted by other people along the supply chain." Certainly colonization had some signifi- cant negative effects on native peoples and the landscape, but recent archeological and historical research, including translations of Father Serra's own letters and papers, reveal that Father Serra worked very hard to maintain his focus of converting peo- ple to Christ, and to do so with love and respect for those whom he wanted to bring to Christ. An example of Father Serra's saintly mercy was when Native Americans opposed to the missionary effort attacked the mission at San Diego and killed one of the Franciscan missionaries there. The Spanish government wanted to execute the culprits, but Father Serra insisted, "No, we must show mercy." It is reported that Father Serra many times confronted the Spanish authorities, pleading with them to act justly toward the Native Americans. According to James A. Sandos, author of an important book entitled, Converting California: Indians and Franciscans in the Missions , there are two widely diver- gent schools of thought regarding Father Junipero Serra and his fellow Franciscan missionaries. At one end are the triumpha- lists, for whom there are no blemishes in the record of the missionaries; at the other end of the spectrum are the nihilists, for whom there are only blemishes. The truth is that there were blemishes, but it is also true that, overall, the missionaries served the Native Americans well. No saint is perfect, but the fruits of his saintly labors can be seen in the fact that 21 missions were established in California by the missionaries, nine of them under the tenure of Father Serra; he personally founded six missions. He baptized more than 6,000 Native Americans and con- firmed over 5,000. Overall some 100,000 people were baptized during the mission period. The lasting impact of Father Serra and his fellow missionaries can be seen in the fact that so many cities in California even today bear the names of the missions they founded, such as San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Diego. At a conference on Junipero Serra at the North American College this past May, Pope Francis offered three key points about Father Serra. "First, he was a tireless mis- sionary." Second, Father Serra "entrusted his missionary activity to the Blessed Virgin Mary," noting Father Serra's devo- tion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Third is Father Serra's great personal holiness, "a saintly example of the Church's universal- ity and special patron of the Hispanic peo- ple of the country." I look forward to concelebrating the Mass of canonization with Pope Francis and pray that St. Junipero Serra's canoniza- tion will bring many blessings of greater growth in the practice of the Catholic faith throughout our country and our diocese. May God give us this grace. Amen. PAGE 2 SEPTEMBER 20, 2015 CATHOLIC TIMES The importance of the first saint canonized on American soil BISHOP PAPROCKI'S SCHEDULE Membership: Catholic Times is a member of the Catholic Press Association and the Illinois Press Association (U.S.P.S. 128-130) Periodicals postage paid at Springfield, IL. Catholic Times is published biweekly by the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, 1615 W. Washington, Springfield, IL 62702-4757. 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Office hours: 8 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Monday-Thursday Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Publisher Scott Mulford Editor Laurie Weakley Office Manager Diane Schlindwein Associate Editor Paula Ruot Advertising Manager Bill Callan Layout-Design Manager Carole House Layout-Design Assistant Oct. 4 Please join Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Respect Life Mass and Rosary Walk Diocese of Springfield in Illinois Oct 3 ~ Holy Family Church 2606 Washington Avenue ~ Granite City Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during Rosary Walk 9 a.m. Respect Life Mass Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, Celebrant 10 a.m. Rosary Walk and Prayer at the abortion facility A light lunch, with speaker, will follow the Rosary Walk. PLEASE SEE PAGE 12 FOR BISHOP PAPROCKI'S SCHEDULE.

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