Our growth per Catholic population has been phenomenal in Orange County boasting 1.2 million Catholics of OC’s overall population of 3.5 million in 2010 - so we certainly are BIG enough as a Diocese to merit this.
The Church sometimes moves slowly though. Father Junipero Serra, though Blessed, is not a fully canonized saint yet … (down here, lol !) and he said the first Orange County mass here in 1776! It was in the Serra Chapel at the Mission San Juan Capistrano - which still stands AND is the oldest standing man made structure in California!
Of course when Fr. Serra SAID that mass … the area was called “Alta California” and technically part of the colonies of Spain and governed “more locally” from what is today Mexico City, Mexico.
You know, I loved Mother Teresa, and Pope John Paul II, and the late Sr. Lucia (from Fatima) … but I’d like to see Fr. Serra canonized – AT LEAST as the same time-- if not before these admitted “greats”.
All he did was trudge thousands of miles of California … suffering from a painful foot ailment to boot … and built the CHAIN of California Missions called the “El Camino Real” (Highway of the King).
It was not the “King of Spain” that was meant, but Jesus. The missions, named for angels, saints and Our Blessed Mother, were each a day’s travel from one another when the chain was “done”.
san.beck.org/13-1b-MexicoandCaribbean.html#a4 ***< It was quite a complicated time in the world too. By 1779 Spain (and “New Spain”) were allied with the American colonists still fighting for their independence - in California the Spanish headed off a Russian attempt to colonize the Pacific Coast! ***
Their founding also led to the conversions of thousands of native Americans who also greatly benefitted from advances in medicine and trade with the Spanish.
Serra had to defend his converts from time to time against some of the soldiers who misbehaved (his letters to the viceroy secured troops to better keep the peace - and he had separate quarters built for some soldiers to keep their sometimes “bad example” from corrupting the more “innocent converts”).
But as in “Mexico” and other Spanish colonies, there was much intermarriage between Spanish men and native American women over time and their common faith cemented the bond. By Serra’s time, his “diverse flock” was 1/5 Spanish, 2/5 Native American and 2/5 mixed - multi-cultural for its time.
Serra never lingered long in comfort but relentlessy pressed on founding missions, many of which became the basis for the future California cities of: San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Santa Clara, San Jose, and San Francisco. To name just the BIGGEST ones. Bishop Vann cited a Serra quote in his installment speech:
"[size=]Always forward, never backward - love God!" – Blessed Junipero Serra
**Today is the feast day of the Diocese of Orange’s patroness “Our Lady of Guadalupe” **who is also patroness of the Americas (from North Pole to South practically!). It is also 12/12/12 — the last time we have a triple numbered date until 01/01/2101 – at least in THIS earthly lifetime!