On August 21, 2009, a bright and balmy day in Carmel, Calif., Serrans from all parts of District 31 converged on Mission San Carlos Borromeo, the burial place of Blessed Junípero Serra, marking the 225th anniversary of his death.
In addition to the many who arrived by auto, a charter bus transported a group of devotees from the counties of Santa Clara and San Mateo. A daylong program had been well planned by Serra Club District 31 governor Roger Hagman and his committee.
To the hymn Gather the People a procession of Serrans and other distinguished guests, and additional interested parties filed into the packed mission church for the midmorning Mass celebrated by Bishop Richard J. Garcia of Monterey.
The bishop’s homily highlighted the virtues and accomplishments of Blessed Serra. Before the final blessing and dismissal, officials presented Caravaca crucifixes to certain Serran officials who renewed aloud their commitment to the mission of the Serra Club. The honored members of Serra International were Cesare Gambardela (president), Tomi Asenuga (president-elect), Michael Strong (immediate past president, USA Council), Sal Stangnitto (past president, USA Council), and Ed Verbeke (executive director).
Other honored guests included Her Excellency Mary Currivan O’Brien (Lieutenant, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, Northwestern USA), Br. Bonaventure Pearsall, OFM (Director of the Serra Cause), and Br. John Samaha, SM.
Basilica Schola Cantorum, the mission’s orchestra and choir, provided the liturgical music for the anniversary Mass, and led a new hymn Messages from Serra written for the occasion by Sr. Suzanne Toolan.