A new book on Saint Serra is coming soon from Christian Clifford, a theology teacher at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo. According to the book’s website, “when [Clifford] was a student, he did not learn about the school’s namesake. When he returned as a teacher, the Theology Department had an entire unit devoted to Serra, used as an introduction to the school’s charism. He thought it would be a good idea to learn more about then Blessed Serra, so he went on a 5-year pilgrimage to visit Serra’s legacy, the 21 missions. He would fall in love with Serra’s story of sacrifice and determination”.
In an October 1st, 2013 article in Catholic San Francisco, Clifford writes:
“After immersing myself in Blessed Junipero Serra’s story, I can say with confidence that he was created to amaze.
Serra left the comforts of Mallorca, Spain, to bring a new vision of love to total strangers. He personally baptized 98 percent of adult converts at Mission Carmel. He walked an estimated 4,000 miles in what is now California, with a seriously injured leg. When at his headquarters in Carmel, he slept on a wood board with four legs. He often pleaded with the crown and its agents, always suggesting to never forget the words of Jesus: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15: 5). Nothing could get in Serra’s way of pruning the vineyard he founded himself. According to records at The Early California Population Project, Serra’s legacy was 101,000 baptisms, 28,000 marriages and 71,000 burials at all 21 missions and from the Los Angeles Plaza Church and the Santa Barbara Presidio. He alone confirmed 4,076. He embodied what St. Augustine shared, “Do not turn away from the one who made you, even to turn toward yourself.”
Let us pray that Serra’s life devoted to the service of others becomes better understood and that we more sincerely live the words of St. Francis of Assisi, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary.’ He will amaze.”
Here are some excerpts from the book’s advance praise:
This is a must-read for high school students in California’s Catholic schools.
Kathleen H. Aikenhead
President, William H. Hannon Foundation
Clifford has written a deeply personal and moving account of his search for the real Junipero Serra.
Retired Archivist, Archdiocese of San Francisco
My background is 30 years of Catholic secondary education with twenty years as principal and president. In my view, his book will serve Catholic students well in courses like California History, American History as well as in Church History. I encourage Mission gift shops to carry the book.
Rev. Thomas J. Elewaut
Pastor, San Buenaventura Mission
This book is a helpful resource for people of faith of all ages to see the blessings of Serra’s witness to the Gospel life and what he can teach us today about effective evangelization.
From the foreword by Tommy King, O.F.M., D.Min.
Pastor, St. Boniface Church, San Francisco, California
This book is a keepsake treatise as we celebrate Serra’s sainthood in September 2015.
Former editor, ¡Siempre Adelante! The Newsletter for the Cause of Blessed Junipero Serra