Ahead of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to the United States in September, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington DC, says that “to hear the true story of Junipero Serra is a blessing.”
Cardinal Wuerl spoke to ZENIT on the impact of the evangelist to the Americas, Blessed Junipero Serra, this Saturday at Rome’s Pontifical North American College, where a day of reflection was held on the life of the missionary.
Junipero Serra, often termed ‘the Apostle of California,’ will be canonized this September in Washington, D.C. at the Basilica of theNational Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on September 23rd.
“We are here today to recognize the role of Junipero Serra and in anticipation of his canonization,” Cardinal Wuerl reflected.
“This is going to be the first time in the history of the Church in the United States that a saint will be canonized, will be ‘raised to the altar’ as we say, here in the United States,” he said.
“What makes this day so special, of course, is the visit of Pope Francis for the first time to the Pontifical North American College and the opportunity we have to celebrate Mass with him.”
“The program,” the Cardinal said, “highlights the significant role of Junipero Serra in the life of our country. Today, particularly, we need to recognize the important and positive impact he had.”
“The only thing that makes the day more joyful,” he noted, “will be the celebration of Mass here with the Pope.”
Reflecting on the interventions themselves, the American cardinal said he was really taken by the intervention Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, particularly “on the contrast between what happened with the Spaniards and Junipero Serra and the indigenous people, of whom there are many left today, and other parts of the New World where there are no survivors left.”
“That was a very powerful statement,” he said.