Two years later, he became a Franciscan. He would go on to be ordained and to teach philosophy and theology.
But God wanted him to do more.
In his mid-thirties, he volunteered for the Missions. He had barely arrived when he was bit by the wrong mosquito. His leg swelled, giving him a life-long limp. Still, he carried out his duties diligently.
He did so well that when the opportunity came for a renewed missionary effort at the edge of "civilization," he was chosen to lead it: even though he was already in his mid-fifties, lame and suffering from asthma.
He established twenty-one missions in that strange land, converting and educating thousands of people there.
He had to work within a cultural and governmental system that was sometimes corrupt and prejudiced, but he himself was faithful, devout, and did great good.
More and more people gathered around the missions he had established and some of them became great cities that kept their religious names, such as San Francisco.
Father Junipero Serra died of tuberculosis in 1784 and is buried in Carmel, California. He was beatified by the great Pope John Paul II in 1988 and his memory is celebrated on this day
.(from an earlier post)