Saint Father Junipero Serra ~ Carmel Mission, CA

On two different trips. while visiting my daughter Natalie and her husband. Barcley in Monterey, CA we visited the Carmel Mission. We experienced a holy peacefulness when we were there that I find difficult to put into words. Natalie and I attended Holy Thursday service at the Mission I will long remember. I was moved to tears more than once with the simplicity of the worship service. After the Mass. the crowd moved down this outdoor hallway pass Saint Serra’s cell, to a smaller chapel to relocate the Blessed Sacrament. We all became one, flowing to the singing, the increase and the Holy Spirit. There was a reverence, I still remember with wonder and awe. I want to share some of what I saw. It is said that Carmel Mission was the saint’s favorite mission and why he choose to be buried here.

On June 3, 1770, after a year of journey and hardship, the soldiers of De Portolá and the missionaries led by Fr. Serra, gathered by the Monterey Bay to witness a formal ceremony of the erection of the Holy cross that would mark the establishment of the second mission which was to be called Mission San Carlos Borromeo. The Mission was located near the Monterey Presidio beside the Bay of Monterey.

A bit of history about Saint Father Serra who was canonized today by Pope Francis: Some of the soldiers at the Presidio were treating the Indians badly. This kept many away from Fr. Serra. The Indians felt Fr. Serra was a part of the Presidio. So, on August 24, 1771, Fr. Serra moved the Mission from Monterey to its present site in Carmel. This also put the Mission closer to a fresh water source and better land for growing crops. The early years here at Carmel were hard. The first Church and dwellings were made of wood and mud. The padres depended mostly on ships from Mexico for their supplies. Unfortunately, these ships did not make it to the Monterey Bay very often. So the Indians shared what little food and supplies they had. Over time, the Padres were able to grow their own crops, and this provided a great deal of the food for the people. Also, the wood and mud buildings were replaced with adobe structures. Carmel became the headquarters for Father Serra and all the Missions. It was from here that he oversaw the building of seven other Missions in California. Here he labored with his Indian friends until his death on August 28, 1784.

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