Two from Muwekma Ohlone Tribe to take part in sainthood mass

Vincent Medina will be participating in the mass in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo from Facebook

Two members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe will take part in the mass in which Pope Francis will bestow sainthood upon Junipero Serra, who was the founder of the brutal Indian mission system in California.

Andrew Galvan, who is the curator of Dolores Mission in San Francisco, will carry a relic of Serra's to the altar during the ceremony, Catholic News Service reported. And Vincent Medina will read a scripture in Chochenyo, the tribe's language.

Medina, who is Galvan's cousin and the assistant curator at Dolores Mission, said he was conflicted about his role in the ceremony given the negative history of the missions.

"My first and primary reason (for doing this) is that I am going for my ancestors; the brave people who suffered under the California Missions, and survived them," Medina wrote on Facebook, Catholic News Service reported. "I am going to discredit misconceptions many have that California Indians are extinct, and to show that we are here -- thriving and strong.

Father Jim Nieblas, a priest who is a member of the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, also felt conflicted about an invitation to attend the ceremony. He decided to travel to Washington, D.C., this week after meeting with his tribe.

"I think most of us understand there are part of our families who don't agree with it," Nieblas told NBC Los Angeles of the decision to bestow sainthood upon Serra.

Caroline Ward-Holland and her son, Kagen Holland, are walking to all 21 Indian missions in California. Photo from Walk for the Ancestors

Caroline Ward-Holland and her son, Kagen Holland, are definitely not happy with that decision. The two members of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians are walking to all 21 missions in the state to call attention to the mistreatment of their people. The Walk for the Ancestors will take them across 650 miles during September and October.

“It’s going to be heartbreaking to watch people celebrating the destruction of our culture and ancestors,” Ward-Holland told The Santa Cruz Sentinel of the sainthood ceremony. “The Pope is putting a stamp on Serra, saying that it’s OK.”

Pope Francis arrives in the nation's capitol on Tuesday for his first visit to the United States. The sainthood ceremony takes place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday.

Get the Story:
Two members of Ohlone tribe to play prominent role in canonization Mass (Catholic News Service 9/17)
Mother, son walk to Mission Santa Cruz to protest canonization of Junipero Serra (The Santa Cruz Sentinel 9/18)
SoCal Priest One of Several Native Americans to Meet With Pope (NBC Southern California 9/18)
Sainthood for California missions founder sparks debate (KCNA 9/18)
Junipero Serra: A hero or a villain? (The Washington Post 9/18)
San Francisco archbishop to meet with Pope Francis during historic visit (ABC 9/20)

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