Mission History Review

Students tour San Gabriel Mission in early May in San Gabriel, Calif. The fourth-grade California history curriculum looks at the social, political, cultural and economic life of the mission period. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

California Catholic leaders plan to revamp church curriculum and museum programs on the California mission system to present more accurately the history, the perspective of California Indians and the missions’ impact on Indian life. The initiative is part of a larger program of the California bishops and Franciscan leaders preparing for the canonization of Blessed Junípero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary who founded the California mission system. Pope Francis is scheduled to canonize him in Washington on Sept. 23. Many Native Americans and organizations have criticized the upcoming canonization, saying that Blessed Serra was part of a system that destroyed Indian life. “The Indian experience has been ignored or denied, replaced by an incomplete version of history focused more on European colonists than on the original Californians,” said the president of the California Catholic Conference, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, in a statement on Sept. 4 about the curriculum and cultural review.

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