As we all know, St. Junípero Serra was canonized by Pope Francis on September 23, 2015 during our Holy Father’s apostolic visit to the United States. As a Californian with a love for both the missions and Father Serra, my heart was warmed by the canonization, but I knew of many for whom it brought up issues of concern.
This conflicted feeling of mine is one of the many reasons why I truly enjoyed reading the new book Junípero Serra: Founder of the California Missions by Linda Gondosch (Author) and Emmanuel Beaudesson (Illustrator). While the life, valor and faith of St. Junípero Serra deserve to be known and cherished, it’s impossible to look at the story of the California Missions without acknowledging the hurt that was done to some of California’s native sons and daughters.
One of the reasons I enjoyed reading this new children’s biography from Ignatius Press and Magnificat is that the book does not shy away from history. In sharing St. Junípero’s dramatic calling to the priesthood and his passion to share his faith in mission territories, it also spells gently and in child-friendly fashion out some of the wrongdoings and conflicts of that time. We learn of Father Serra’s passion to bring Christ to those living in this part of the world, but we also see him advocating for and ministering to those whose way of life was being shaped and changed. The book is well researched, detailed yet accessible, and filled with eye catching illustrations which draw us into the life, adventure and true caring of St. Junípero Serra.
A Look Inside:
Ignatius Press shares about the book:
San Francisco, October 22, 2015 – In 18th-century Spain, daring stories of missionaries spreading the good news of the Gospel in the New World ignited the imagination of a devout young boy. A new children’s book, Junípero Serra: Founder of the California Missions, tells the story of this boy whose dream became a reality. He became Franciscan friar Junípero Serra, who traveled to the New World and tirelessly preached the love of Christ to the natives living in the unchartered wilderness of California. His motto was, “Always forward, never back.”
Pope Francis recently canonized Junípero Serra during his historic visit to the USA in September. This book opens with a special message from Pope Francis, exhorting us to follow Saint Junípero Serra’s example. Pope Francis explains, “Friar Junípero’s witness calls upon us to get involved, personally, in the mission of the whole continent.”
The Most Reverend Jose Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, says, “Junipero Serra is a great example for Catholics. He dedicated his life to the mission of evangelization, to bringing the good news of the Gospel to America. He understood that the purpose of the Church is to help us all grow as human persons and to respond to God’s call: to love God and love others.”
Join the “founding father of California” on his amazing journey and experience the saintly missionary zeal that led to the establishment of the 21 Catholic missions in California. His presence and work are still very much alive through these beautiful missions that are visited by millions of people every year. This new book, Junípero Serra: Founder of the California Missions will help children understand the fascinating story of adventure, faith and courage of Saint Junípero Serra.
About the Author:
Award winning author Linda Gondosch has written eleven books for children, including picture books, middle grade novels, and nonfiction published by Ignatius Press, Lerner Publishing Group, Random House, and others. With a master’s degree in education, Gondosch has taught in South Dearborn High School and Northern Kentucky University. She has given presentations at over two-hundred schools and libraries about books and the writing process. After raising four children, Linda and her husband now enjoy traveling throughout the United States and Europe, visiting historic sites.
Copyright 2015 Lisa M. Hendey
Images Copyright Ignatius Press, used with permission