Cardinal Wuerl celebrates Pentecost Sunday Mass and Blesses New Statue of Saint Junípero Serra

Like Saint Junípero Serra’s motto, “siempre adelante” (always forward), may we feel the same excitement for the Gospel, the same power of the Spirit, and the same zeal for souls in the Lord, said Cardinal Wuerl.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington celebrated Pentecost Sunday Mass and blessed a new statue of Saint Junípero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday. Pentecost is a feast day celebrated fifty days after the death and Resurrection of Jesus, and ten days after his Ascension into heaven; it concludes the Easter season in the Catholic Church.

After his Resurrection, and in anticipation of his return in glory to his Father, Jesus gathered the Apostles and said to them, “You will be my witnesses,” said Cardinal Wuerl as he began his homily. Jesus then sent them out to bring the Good News to the whole world, a challenge accomplished only with the outpouring and presence of the Holy Spirit, which is celebrated at Pentecost. Referencing the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, the cardinal said the Apostles who were described as timid and fearful, were anointed in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that allowed them to be bold and to take on the challenge of renewing the face of the earth by bringing into God’s new family everyone who would hear and accept Jesus’ Gospel.

“Each one of us has shared our own personal Pentecost in the saving waters of Baptism. We emerge from those waters able, once we have grown more fully in the Gospel of Christ, to become ourselves heralds of that truth for as Pope Francis continually calls us ‘evangelizing disciples,’” said the cardinal. One sign of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the holiness we see in the lives of others, particularly the saints of the Church such as Saint Junípero Serra. The cardinal recalled when Pope Francis canonized Junípero Serra during his apostolic visit to Washington in 2015. During the Mass celebrated on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the first canonization that took place in the United States was of a Franciscan missionary priest who established nine missions along the coast of California between 1769 and 1784 while evangelizing the region’s native peoples. A native of Spain, Junípero Serra left his home country to become a missionary in the New World, answering Christ’s call to bring the Gospel to “the ends of the earth.”

“He made his initial landing in the New World at Santa Cruz, but quickly moved in from the coast of Mexico to Querétaro where he is credited with establishing a number of mission churches of remarkable and enduring beauty,” said the cardinal. “They today continue to bear witness to the fruit of his evangelizing mission and its success. Junípero Serra thereafter began his American journey. He is credited with making his way on foot up and down the coast of California founding and overseeing mission after mission, whose names continue to dot the landscape.”

Pope Francis called Serra “one of the founding fathers of the United States,” in a Mass at the Pontifical North American College in Rome in May 2015, recalled the cardinal. And at the September 2015 canonization Mass in Washington, Pope Francis reminded us to make Saint Junípero Serra’s motto, “Siempre adelante,” — always forward — our own: always forward bringing the faith, living the faith, and proclaiming the faith, said the cardinal.

“Today, in the context of this celebration of Pentecost and following this Eucharistic Liturgy, we will bless a statue to commemorate Saint Junípero Serra as a reminder of the power of the Spirit, the challenge of missionary discipleship and the witness of human holiness.”

 “May we feel in our heart the same excitement for the Gospel, the same power of the Spirit, the same zeal for souls, that calls us to move ‘siempre adelante’ — always forward — in the Lord,” said the cardinal as he concluded his homily. After the Mass, the procession went down the east portico steps of the basilica to the Saint Junípero Serra statue and the cardinal blessed the new statue.