Teodoro Garcia s IP Essay example

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Junipero Serra:
Leaves His Legacy as a Leader in Reforming and Colonizing California
Teodoro Garcia
Junior Division
Historical Paper

Paper Length: 2086 words

In 1713, exploration of the newfound land known as America, was increasing as many powerful countries sought to colonize the fruit baring area for trade. One of these countries, Spain, began creating establishments in Central America and parts of what is now known as The United States. These establishments, known as missions, was where the Spanish tried to convert the local natives into Catholicism and also served to locate what land the Spanish had conquered. Priests from all over the country traveled to this land, eager to spread the word of Christ to “New Spain”, but when they got there, they were greeted by rebellious Indians and poor living conditions. The constant raids of Native Americans not willing to convert to Christianity caused many problems due to the lack of defense of the missions. Malnourishment and diseases could not be dealt with due to the fact that the inhabitants (with the exception of the natives captured), kept having to defend themselves and many tribes would take supplies from the missions. As the time passed, much land still remained unconquered and fewer Priests were willing to travel to the land fearing for their lives. Though there was one man, Junipero Serra, who was willing to take the risk to expand colonization for Spain, in the name of God. Leading colonization in the most dangerous parts of America, Miguel Jose, later known as Juniper Serra, was born on November 24, 1713, on the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain. His parents, Antonio and Margarita Serra, knew that, even at a small age, he was going to be small and weak. His parents could not read or write; however, they wanted him to have a good education. Luckily, there was a great school near their home, San Bernardino. It was at San Bernardino that Miguel received a simple education and also learned Latin; a language used for law, medicine, and his church practices later on. The priests who ran the school were members of the Franciscan Religious Order, a set of men who devoted their lives to God. They inspired him into becoming a priest, which was his main goal in life. Miguel also had a secret goal that he told no one about except his family. He wanted to become a missionary. As a missionary he especially wanted to travel across the Atlantic to the land Spain had recently conquered, New Spain. After several years of training he finally became a priest and took the name of Junipero Serra; then, opportunity struck. He finally obtained the chance of becoming a missionary when Father Mezquia, a special representative of the Apostolic College of San Fernando in Mexico City (one of the four institutions in Mexico to train missionaries to convert Indians to Catholicism), was recruiting prospective missionaries for the college. The father was sent because the king and the priests were in desperate need of devoted priests to serve as missionaries to the Pame Indians in the Sierra Gorda region of Mexico. Recently, the settlement had been attacked and their crops burned by the Indians, terrorizing everyone there. Diseases have been devastating the Pame population, causing some to escape to the mountain strongholds. Although facing emotional obstacles and his respected position, he told a superior priest that he wanted to volunteer as a member of Father Mezquia’s mission. To his surprise, Serra was accepted as part of the covenant, only to learn that the places were already filled. A month later, a letter was sent to him saying that five priests had reconsidered the choice; the position had been opened! By 1749, when Junipero reached Malaga, Spain, the mission system, which was an integral part of New Spain, many large colonies that had a mission became a very efficient way to make large cities. Serra survived the long, fifteen-day journey from Malaga and walked