Tour to highlight missions of Bl. Junípero Serra
(SNR) – Father Christopher Barak, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Seward, will lead a pilgrimage Oct. 1-15 to pray at the tomb of missionary and soon-to-be-Saint Junípero Serra, and to visit six missions that he started along the coast of California.
The trip will also include several days in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, allowing free time to see the sites and enjoy a variety of activities of California.
“Years ago I studied the growth of the Catholic Church in the USA,” Father Barak said. “So, I thought a great pilgrimage would be to go to the birthplace of the Church in the West and visit the historic missions. Pilgrims could make the spiritual journey as a time of prayer to Jesus and Mary for the future of our Catholic Church in our country.
“I planned the itinerary with Maryann Spahni of St. Peter Church in Lincoln,” he continued, “who has a familiarity with California. Little did we know that soon Pope Francis would publicize his intention to canonize Bl. Junípero Serra.”
During the 1700s as the Spanish moved up the California coast, missionaries preached the Gospel and started Catholic churches for the natives. Bl. Junípero Serra, a Franciscan priest from Spain, founded nine of the 21 missions between San Diego and San Francisco. The missions were established to help the newly-baptized natives learn and live the Catholic faith, receive an education, and manage the land. Father Serra died and was entombed at one of his first missions, St. Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo, on August 28, 1784.
Pilgrims will visit 10 missions, two Cathedrals, and the former Crystal Cathedral, now a Catholic Church called Christ Cathedral. They will cross the Golden Gate Bridge, drive along the coastline to Big Sur, see Beverly Hills and St. Lucia Mountains, visit Muir Woods’ towering redwoods, and stop at one of the many California wineries to enjoy some delicious local wines.
“As the Bible says, God made wine to cheer men’s hearts,” Father Barak commented.
He added, “During this pilgrimage God will grant blessings to the pilgrims to be effective missionaries in their daily life. He will make them better witnesses of Jesus Christ to continue the evangelization of our country that was started by the early missionaries including the future saint Junípero Serra.”