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Junípero Serra: From Spanish Academic to New World Missionary

Junípero Serra: (1713-784) is best known as the founder of the Franciscan missions in Alta California, but he spent only one quarter of his life in California. Serra applied to be a missionary to the Americas in the midst of a highly successful academic career in Palma de Mallorca. He spent eight years as a missionary in central Mexico, another eight years giving domestic missions throughout many areas of New Spain, and a year and a half as a missionary in Baja California, before arriving in Alta California in 1769.Our presentation will examine the fashion in which his prior experiences affected the way Serra conceived and implemented his missionary vocation. His study of Duns Scotus, his experience as a university professor in Mallorca's capital and as a preacher in its rural hinterlands, his ministry among the Pame people of the Sierra Gorda, and his attempt to rekindle devotion in various urban and rural Mexican congregations all contributed to his developing sense of what he regarded as his unique missionary vocation. That personal vision continues to animate the California missionary enterprise long after his death.

Rose Marie Beebe / Robert Senkewicz