September 26, 2015
First Pilgrimage for
Saint Junipero Serra
At 7:30 AM about 150 people gathered in front of San Carlos Cathedral on Church Street in Monterey. Father Peter Crivello would be our leader as we attempt to retrace the footsteps of Saint Junipero Serra between San Carlos Cathedral and Carmel Mission Basilica.
Father Peter gave us a brief overview of our path and some instructions, “Follow the cross, this shows that we are on a pilgrimage…When you see me hold up this gold folder it is time to stop and gather and reflect in prayer…Deacon Warren and others scouted out this route. It has been a wonderful and inspiring week with Pope Francis here and the canonization of Junipero Serra which people prayed for decades for – and we come to enjoy this moment. This is one pilgrimage and it is my prayer that it is the first of many.”
The pilgrimage would be about five miles (Strava on my phone marked the walk at 6.0 miles). All ages had gathered. We had young families with children in strollers to some of our older parishioners. John whom I spoke with when we started said he did not expect to walk the entire five miles but he would go as far as he could. (John made it the entire distance!) In fact the majority did.
We began our pilgrimage with prayer. During our walk we would stop, gather and Father Peter would lead us in prayer and a meditation on the life of Saint Junipero Serra taken from “Blessed Junipero Serra Meditations and Novena,” by Franciscan Friars of California.
San Carlos Cathedral to Bike Path – 2.3 miles
Father Peter: “So we begin in prayer asking God to bless us on this pilgrimage recalling the life and ministry of Saint Junipero Serra. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Lord be with you.”
Pilgrims: “And with your spirit.”
Father Peter: “Let us pray. Saint Junipero was ordained a priest at age 24, and earned a doctorate in Sacred Theology at 28. By age 35, he held the highest ranking professorship at the University of Majorca. He was also a brilliant orator. After one particularly inspiring sermon, it was recorded that “his sermon was worthy of being printed in letters of gold.” However, the voice of God called Junipero to be a teacher of nations…Saint Junipero left Majorca for Mexico in 1749, he sent a farewell letter to his parents. He wrote, in part, “I wish I could give you some of the happiness that is mine; I feel that you would urge me to go ahead and never to turn back. What you consider and endure as a great sorrow will be turned into a lasting joy, for, if we are no more to see each other in this world, we will be united forever in eternal glory. That is my prayer.”
Saint Junipero Serra’s words, “Always go forward and never look back, Siempre adelante, nunca de adtrás became our pilgrimage motto.
And we are off. From behind the San Carlos Cathedral we turn left on to Fremont,
make a right on to Via Mirada and pass Lagunta Niranda Park.
At Iris Canyon Road our group turns right and walks the next mile on this quiet, rarely used road which cuts through the Iris Canyon Greenbelt.
Both sides of the street are lined with Monterey Pine, Coastal Oak, and Poison Oak. Quite possibly this was the route Saint Junipero trekked as he walked back and forth between San Carlos Cathedral and Carmel Misson to say Mass. The one difference would be of course there would be no road, just a dirt trail.
At the intersection of Don Dahvee Lane we leave the greenbelt and continue on Iris Canyon under Highway 1.
At the intersection of Iris Canyon and Barnet Segal Lane
our pilgrimage turns right on to Bernet Segal Lane
and begins our climb up Carmel Hill.
Before our climb, Father Peter gathered us together for our second reflection on the life of Saint Junipero Serra.
Father Peter: “On December 7, 1749, after a three-month transatlantic crossing to the New World, during which the ship was temporarily blown off course by a violent storm that threatened to shipwreck, Junipero first steeped ashore on continental North America at Vera Cruz, Mexico. He chose to walk the 275 – mile stretch of El Camino Real to Mexico City’s San Fernando Apostolic College. Along the way, mosquito or chigger bites infected his lower left leg. Recurrent inflammations, eventually developing into an ulcerated, possible cancerous growth, would afflict him for the rest of his life…”
Before setting off again we pray in unison the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. Our pilgrimage shouts Saint Junipero, pray for us. Viva San Junipero. Siempre adelante, nunca de adtrás. And away we go.
Barnet Segal Lane turns into Viejo Road.
We are walking parallel to Highway 1
with Del Monte Shopping Center and Highway 1 to our right.
This first climb is about one mile.
But if this little dog can make this
pilgrimage so can I.
One more push half way up the Carmel Hill
to our second rest stop 2.3 miles into our pilgrimage.
Our reward – Monterey Bay.
Bike Path to Carpenter St. – 1.1 miles
The next mile will be the rest of the climb of Carmel Hill. Make this next mile and Father Peter tells us, “it is all down hill from there.”
The gold folder calls us to gather for meditation on the life of Saint Junipero Serra.
Father Peter: “At age 53 Saint Junipero ventured to Lower California as newly appointed President of the peninsula’s fifteen missions. He soon learned of Spain’s forthcoming temporal and spiritual settlement of Upper California. He volunteered and was appointed President. During the 95 day, 750 mile journey north by land from Lorreto to San Diego Bay, Junipero experienced great pain. He wrote, “I had much trouble in standing on my feet because the left foot was much inflamed, and the swelling reached halfway up my leg, which was covered with sores” Refusing all advice to turn back, Junipero said, “Even if I die on the road, I will not turn back. Although I would be buried here, I shall gladly remain among these people, if it be the will of God.” As a final alternative to being carried on a stretcher Junipero asked the muleteer to prepare a poultice for his leg, and by the next day he was walking and able to celebrate Mass…Saint Junipero Serra, when your health was in jeopardy, when the future looked bleak, you never wavered…Help us all to learn from your example and remember that “God keeps His promise. He will not let you be tested beyond your strength.” (Corinthians 10:13)
Our pilgrimage is now in the rhythm of our meditation and prayer we loudly praise God and His Mother with the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. Then we invoke the intercession of our newest saint as we chant, Saint Junipero, pray for us. Viva San Junipero. Siempre adelante, nunca de adtrás. Carmel Hill here we come!
Our pilgrimage continues single file
up a steep hill into the shrubs and pines that line Highway 1.
Our path is now narrow and covered with twigs and leaves.
We walked quietly forward, yet always aware of those in need.
Finally it feels like we are walking in the footsteps of the Padres which is described in the following quote from California Trails, Intimate Guide to the Old Missions on page 230. “The Governor took the road to Monterey, going through a dense forest of pine where were paced many great crosses, significant of Christ’s suffering. But they had not gone far before a band of choristers appeared, all wearing newly washed robes, attended by many young Indians in the dress of acolytes. They were closely followed by the padres marching in two wings.”
We descend down to the shoulder of Highway 1.
But only for a few yards
before we are back
climbing into the tree line again.
The path quickly levels out
and soon we are out of the tree line on to Carpenter Street.
John has walked much farther than he had intended.
We gather for a reflection on Saint Junipero Serra’s life.
Father Peter: “Saint Junipero truly believed in the power of novenas. While he was stationed at San Diego, scurvy killed many of the soldiers, provisions were running perilously low, and the supply ship had not returned from Mexico with replenishment. The dire situation forced a decision to abandon San Diego and California if the ship did not arrive soon. The limit was set at March 20, 1770, one day after the Solemnity of Saint Joseph…True to his motto, “Always go forward; never turn back,” he wrote that he and fellow priest, Juan Crespi, would remain even if the settlement were abandoned, relying on Almighty God’s providence.” With the participation of all the soldiers and sailors, Saint Junipero began a nine-day novena of prayers to Saint Joseph. On March 19, the ninth day of the Novena and the feast of Saint Joseph, and with everything ready for departure from San Diego, a ship was seen on the southern horizon at 3 PM [the hour of Mercy]. Saint Junipero’s heart was filled with “singular joy and happiness” and he “ceaselessly thanked God.”…Saint Junipero Serra, you understood the power and grace of prayer, especially when it is channeled into a novena. As Our Lord said, “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you (Luke 11:9).”
Right on cue our large group prays loudly the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. Saint Junipero, pray for us. Viva San Junipero. Siempre adelante, nunca de adtrás. Our next stop, Flanders Mansion.