California parents know the famous “Fourth Grade Mission Project” as a rite of passage in our schools — not only Catholic schoolchildren but their public school counterparts participate in this assignment to study and build a model of one of the state’s twenty-one missions. My own son Adam’s fourth grade model of Mission San Buenaventure still resides in my bedroom – Adam and his dad toiled over it for several nights and it was acclaimed for being the first-ever mission project (at our school!) to feature a working fountain in its courtyard. I think we could get a pretty penny for it on eBay if we sold it the week Mission Projects are due, when parents are running around trying to complete the craft.
But the Mission Project is not only the reason that this California mom loves our missions. Yes, they are historical treasures. But more importantly, many of them are working parishes where families come together as the Body of Christ. They serve as a major resource in the New Evangelization — many visit missions as “tourists” and leave wanting to know more about Catholicism. For many, including non-Catholics, they provide a needed retreat from the craziness of today’s world.
That’s why you and I need to help save a national and Catholic treasure: Mission San Antonio de Padua.
California’s third mission, Mission San Antonio was established in 1771 by Father Serra. At the time, there were no native people in sight, and at the dedication ceremony, Father Serra orated without an audience. Upon the timely arrival of a single member of the Salinan tribe, Father Serra believed his mission would be fruitful. At its peak, the community around Mission San Antonio grew to more than 1,800 people.
The Mission San Antonio sits in practically the same setting as it did 240 years ago. In fact, it has been said that Mission San Antonio is the only California Mission its founders would recognize today. Mountain lions, deer and wild turkeys still roam the vast oak savannahs, and unlike most lands surrounding California Missions, the San Antonio Valley has not been built up into a town – there are no modern buildings, paved parking lots nor traffic lights spoiling the view. The mission is its own serene entity; the focal point on a watercolor landscape.
The Mission faces major challenges as its preservation website shares:
San Antonio is in desperate need of building upgrades to meet modern earthquake standards, thereby increasing safety and guaranteeing the mission will remain a sacred space for future generations. Without adequate funding for proper retrofitting, the historic mission faces certain closure, a tragic loss for California.
The Mission has established a preservation campaign to raise needed funds to protect this treasure:
The Campaign for the Preservation of Mission San Antonio de Padua Foundation was formed in 2010 to fund the retrofit repair and the preservation of the structural integrity of the historic and beloved mission. The Foundation’s intent is to raise funds to ensure that this landmark, an important piece of California’s history, is saved, so that visitors and the greater community can experience this historical treasure and its inspiring serenity for years to come. The Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation and independent from any religious organization.
Please prayerfully consider how you might be called to assist in helping to secure the future of Mission San Antonio de Padua. A few ways include making a small (or large!) donation, shopping for gifts in the Mission’s online store, and definitely keeping this cause in your prayers.