Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer with the Saints: Blessed Junipero Serra

Today, July 1st, is the Feast Day of Blessed Junipero Serra and we celebrated with some fun and simple activities today.

God most High, your servant Junipero Serra brought the gospel of Christ to the peoples of Mexico and California and firmly established the Church among them. By his intercession, and through the example of his apostolic zeal, inspire us to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Blessed Junipero Serra was born in Spain in the year 1713. At the age of 16 he entered into the service of the Catholic Church and soon joined the Order of St. Francis of Assisi. Volunteers were wanted to serve the Franciscan missions in the New World and Bl. Junipero Serra was eager to do so. He first went to Mexico before being given responsibility over missions in Baja California. Over the course of the remainder of his life, Bl. Junipero Serra walked many, many miles while founding nine missions (there are 21 missions total), helping to protect and aid native peoples, and baptizing over 6,000 people.

To celebrate his feast day, the kids had a snack of popcorn while listening to the story of his life. I also came across this link for posole, a favorite of the natives and mission fathers, but did not think it would travel well, nor be a good thing to eat on a very hot day! Which is why I settled on popcorn as many natives used corn in the bulk of their diet.

Naturally the kids made holy cards. It is such a simple thing but all ages really love this and even the youngest of the crowd join in. I am definitely sticking with this throughout the year and not just the summer!


Our fun activity of the day was making an "old" map of the California missions. I'm bummed I forgot my camera but really, I was so busy with helping the kids, I'm not sure if I would have been able to take pictures! The process is super simple but can take a bit, with drying and all. If you have a big crowd, have more supplies (and helpers) on hand. We had seven making the map and I did the adult portion and it took a little over an hour. The kids really enjoyed this so it was well worth the effort, simple though it was!

First, a little prep work. Make about two cups of tea (more if you need it). I used the cold brew so it whipped up in no time and I could pour it right into a spray bottle. Grab some old kitchen towels, a candle, a candle lighter (the long stick kind - you'll need it to beat out the embers), some olive oil and printed sheets of the map.

Now, onto the kids. If the kids want a creased, crumply map (like Miss Bear's), have them ball it up and then smooth it out. If not, it will still wave out some and look good. Next, put one map on a towel and go to town spraying it with tea water. The more you spray, the more brown the map will become. Continue on with all the maps. Let them sit a few minutes before draining off the excess tea and gently blotting with a towel. It will take longer if you have a cloudy day (full sunshine not long at all!).

Once dry, it's time for some adult fun. Light your candle and start slowly burning the edges of the map, making sure to blow out the flame and beat the edges with your lighter so the embers stop glowing and burning the paper to nothing. This really is not that hard to do, just time consuming. You can skip this part but if you don't have to, the kids will love you for it and it looks so much better. Promise!

The final touch is for the kids to put on a little (or, a lot, in our case) of olive oil. This adds some silkiness as well as those oily spots to really make it look old. I used my hands, rubbed in some olive oil and quickly rubbed the map. But for the kids I put out little containers of oil and they "painted" it on with q-tips. Some went crazy with this step so I blotted the extra off as best I could. They still looked great though, with a sort of vellum look to them.

My kids want to hang them up in their rooms. You could do that as they are or mount them up on some brown paper bag with the edges torn. If you do this, I would recommend attaching them to the background before doing the oil. This project would be great for making a summer treasure map!

Miss Bear's

Critter's

Skipper's
 
Another fun idea, especially for older kids and to take back home, would be to study the California missions and how they were built and what they look like. You could build your own model right at home.

 Blessed Junipero Serra, pray for us!

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