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Bl. Junipero Serra and Our Shifting Catholic Landscape

July 1, 2015


There are now over a billion people who are part of the great Catholic communion to which we belong.

If we were to describe the most common color or complexion of the members of our Church it would be brown. If we were to speak the language spoken by most Catholics, the language would be Spanish. If we were to look on a map to locate where most of the Catholics in the world lived, it would be in the regions to the south, below the equator. If we were to name the greatest Catholic city in the world, it would be Mexico City with its great shrine of Guadalupe. If we were to describe the economic status of most of the world’s Catholics, most of us would live in poverty.

Most of the world’s baptized Catholics owe their faith to a great missionary enterprise that swept through the globe following European expansion during the 15th through the early 20th century. Faith in Jesus Christ circles the globe largely as a result of the heroic efforts of missionaries to endure profound hardship to bring the good news of salvation to the world.

Blessed Junipero Serra was such a missionary. His deep faith compelled him to establish missions throughout the southwestern United States. His work laid the groundwork for the spread of the Catholic faith in this hemisphere.

It may come as a further surprise to many of you that the Puritan Pilgrims were not the first Christians to set the cross of Christ on this continent. Catholic missionaries laid the first sign of the cross in North America.

Catholic faith is a faith that goes out into the world. We have in Jesus Christ a life that simply cannot be kept to ourselves as a secret. Our faith compels us to show what God has accomplished for us in Jesus Christ by inviting others to join in the great mission of his Church.

Let us pray that Junipero Serra will intercede for us today, and help us to give testimony to Christ and his Church.

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