Friday, December 4, 2015

Padre Junipero Serra, A New Saint for All Seasons

On September 26, 2015, Padre Junipero Serra joined the family of saints in a beautiful family celebration at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.  This beautiful event was celebrated by Pope Francis in a fitting tribute to this holy friar.  Much is already known of Padre Serra who was ordained a priest in 1737 and eventually left his beloved homeland of Spain to serve in Mexico and California.  He is most known for being the first Pastor of California and establishing nine of the California Missions.

There has been some controvesy of Padre Juniperso Serra being established as a saint in America and thus, there is a need for people to have a greater understanding of this holy friar and his great love for the people he served.  It should be known that many times he was a strong voice to fight the military leadership of the day on behalf of the Indigious native people of California.  He was a champion on providing the best ways for the military to relate to the Indians.  He opposed the manner in which the military treated the Indians and constantly stood up for them.

In addition to the difficulties with the military of his day, Padre Serra with his friars, instructed the Indigious native people on building missions, farming, harvesting, working as a community and religion.  He wanted them to be able to live an easier and more productive life and to know Christ and the great love of God.  Padre Serra had a concern for their physical and spiritural well being.   He and his friars guided them in living peaceful and holy lives.  He cared much!

Padre Junipero Serra, now Saint Junipero Serra, is a perfect saint for all times and seasons in America and especially in California.  Following in the steps of Saint Francis of Assisi, Padre Serra lived his life as a peacemaker and built the church up through the many missions in California.  His example of living a life of sacrifice and the greatest of faith, to bring the people he served in union with a loving, vibrant and giving God.  After years of many illnesses, a leg that never healed from an insect bite and various physical aliments, Padre Serra passed away on August 28, 1784 at the San Carlos Mission in Carmel.  With years of extensive research and discernment by the Catholic Church he was beautified on September 25, 1988.  His status as a saint complete on September 26, 2015.
As the wisdom of Padre Junipero Serra was great in his life, left us reflect on his words which are timeless:

“Let us make use of time.  Our steps should be in conformity with the vocation to which God has called us; let us work out our spiritual salvation with fear and trembling, and with a burning love and zeal seek for the salvation of our brethren and neighbors.  And may all the glory be to our great God.”.

Let us also remember to live these words:

                   “Always go forward
                       Never turn back!”  

Yes, Saint Junipero Serra who is now a saint for all seasons.

(Note, if you are considering a vocation to the priesthood please see 


Friday, May 8, 2015


Reflections on Fr. Toribio Gutierrez, C.M.

In the Archdiocese of Los Angles each year there are some pastors and associate priests that receive new assignments to new parishes. Such was the case for Fr. Toribio Gutierrez in the summer of 2014. From what I have witnessed, Fr. Toribio is truly a “bridge builder” between the English and Spanish speaking communities. Within a few short months he has made substantial progress on bringing together both these communities within the parish of St. Paschal Baylon. Fr. Toribio’s sincere, holy, and happy ways are enhancing both the English and Spanish communities while building a bridge towards greater participation in each others’ Masses, events and cultural experiences.

Fr. Toribio was originally from Mexico and named by his mother after the brave martyr Fr. Toribio Romo who died for his faith at the age of 27 in 1928. It should be noted that Fr. Toribio Romo is now a saint and considered a hero to millions of Mexican Catholics. Our current day Fr. Toribio, like Fr. Toribio Romo, has endeared himself to the people of his community. Fr. Toribio brings the life of Jesus, his holy works and sacrifice to current times through his homilies, work and humble manner. This modern and holy priest, is a reflection of the happiness he feels in his faith and the priesthood. For English and Spanish speaking alike, his homilies teach, inspire and enlighten all to live a stronger and more joyful faith.

In just a few short months at the parish of St. Paschal Baylon, Fr. Toribio Gutierrez has shown his support of a number of parish ministries. These include the RCIA program, the Religious Education program that includes English and Spanish speaking teachers, the parish school and the events of the Hispanic community. With dedication and care, week by week his English improves and he is able to give meaningful and inspirational homilies for the English masses. During his first Good Friday at the parish, Fr. Toribio was able participate in the traditional lengthy readings.

This holy priest continues to build that bridge and bring communities together. Many hope that Fr. Toribio continues as an associate of St. Paschal Baylon for many years to come. This priest wants to see good, happy and Christian values. He inspires both the English and Spanish speaking communities to seek just that, and to make a positive difference in their parish community.

May he continue to build this great bridge and inspire others as well.