I hope the resources on my website will help you learn about and teach this chapter in California history. It is by an educator who learned a lot by writing four books and articles about colonial California.
As Oceanside, California gets closer to naming a public school after Pablo Tac, the following will help one learn about him.
First, read the only biography written for the general audience, Meet Pablo Tac, the story of the Mission Indian from San Luis Rey de Francia who became the first seminarian from the California missions. His writings are the earliest from a California Mission Indian. The book is about faith, courage in the face of adversity, and the universality of the Catholic Church. It is a must for California Indian studies.
Also, find videos and other resources about Pablo Tac at the following links:
Story of California mission Indian Pablo Tacshared on award-winning podcast CNA Newsroom
San Mateo, CA — Christian Clifford, veteran Catholic school educator, has been on a quest to get the word out about Pablo Tac (1822-1841). He recently did just that while a guest on CNA Newsroom, an award-winning podcast of EWTN News, part of the largest religious media network in the world.
Pablo Tac was Luiseño Indian. He was born and raised at Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, located in present-day Oceanside, California. At the age of ten, he left the Mission with Fr. Antonio Peyrí and another Luiseño boy, Agapito Amamix. Their destination was Rome. On September 23, 1834, Pablo and Agapito enrolled at the Urban College. There they learned how to be missionary priests, hoping to one day return home to minister to their fellow Luiseño.
Clifford, author of the only popular biography about the Mission Indian youth, Meet Pablo Tac, hopes that bringing attention to Pablo Tac will lead to more research being done. He believes there must be more to discover about him beyond what we know.
Pablo Tac’s writings are the earliest from a California Indian. While in Rome studying for the Catholic priesthood, Pablo wrote a description of life as a mission Indian (“Conversion of the San Luiseños of Alta California”, c. 1835), gave a public recitation of a poem at the Polyglot Academy (c. January 1836), in Sequoyahesque fashion created a dictionary of the language of his people (“Prima Linguae Californiensis Rudimenta a P. Tak proposita”, c. February 1838), and wrote an account of the native peoples in Southern California (“De Californiensibus”, c. after 1838).
Clifford realizes that unlike the first North American Indian saint, Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), Pablo is little known. That does not seem to slow him down, though. He was overjoyed when he met Catholic Luiseños in July 2019 at the Tekakwitha Conference in Sharonville, Ohio who are aware of Pablo and follow in his footsteps. Also, a hall at Mission San Luis Rey was named after Pablo in 2012 and in June 2021 it was decided that an Oceanside public elementary school will take his name. He is confident that once people are made aware of his short life that it inspires, as attested by the over 500 Catholics and people of good will who have signed the petition to nominate Pablo Tac for the cause of canonization (an electronic version of the petition can be found at www.change.org/InvokePabloTac). The campaign has not yet received the support of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians or the Diocese of San Diego.
Californian Knight recognized as Everyday Hero for his 800-mile pilgrimage to the 21 California Missions
San Mateo, CA — July 1 is the feast day of Saint Junípero Serra. Learn more about the holy friar, who soon-to-be Cardinal Robert McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego in 2015 called a “foundational figure” in California history, from a man who literally walked in his footsteps.
Christian Clifford, author of books about Spanish-Mexican history in California, was on a quest to visit all twenty-one California missions, on foot! When asked why he did it, he shared, “I visited all 21 missions by car so I thought it would be nice to walk the entire chain. Being a Catholic school teacher for over twenty years, my hope was to get as close to the lives of the amazing people who were the first Catholics in California—indigenous, Spanish, mestizo—with the hope of being a better Catholic and teacher.” He achieved his mission and is featured in the third season of the Knights of Columbus multipart series “Everyday Heroes”.
The Knights of Columbus, founded in 1882, is a Catholic fraternal benefit society with over 2 million members worldwide. The series “Everyday Heroes”, according to the Knights of Columbus, “focus the spotlight on these remarkable Knights whose courage, faith and commitment to charity embody the mission of the Knights of Columbus.” Christian Clifford is a 3rd degree member of Council 1346, founded in 1908 and one of the first five councils founded in California. They meet at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Belmont.
Clifford began his 800-mile journey in May 2018, the year marking the 184th anniversary of Pablo Tac’s enrollment at the Urban College, Rome, where the Native American youth and scholar attended seminary (learn more about Pablo Tac here). The bulk of his miles were walked in 2019. Clifford teaches theology at Serra High School in San Mateo and 2019 marked the school’s 75th anniversary and the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first California mission at San Diego. Clifford finished his walk to the twenty-one California missions in June 2020 and believes it was appropriate, because 2020 marked the fifth year since the canonization of Junípero Serra.
Specifics for Clifford’s pilgrimage along the California Missions Trail were approximately 800-miles walked over 45 days, and approximately 298 hours walking. Clifford also raised over $2000 on Facebook and GoFundMe for The Campaign for the Preservation of Mission San Antonio de Padua Foundation. Founded in 1771 by Saint Junípero Serra, the third of the twenty-one California missions is the remotest and for many a favorite because of its authenticity. Clifford believes, “The Mission is a gem. Future generations must know of the roots of modern California and the Spanish missions are those roots.”
Clifford documented his adventure on the California Missions Trail in Pilgrimage: In Search of the REAL California Missions.
To watch the Everyday Heroes “Walking in the Footsteps of St. Junipero Serra” episode about Christian Clifford, visit here. For more information about Christian Clifford visitwww.Missions1769.com.
California mission history books author recognized at CMA Book Awards
San Mateo, CA — Christian Clifford, author of books about Spanish and Mexican history in California, received two Catholic Media Association Book Awards on July 7, 2022, during this year’s Catholic Media Association Conference in Portland, Oregon. The CMA Book Awards recognize the outstanding work of publishers, authors, and book editors that support the faith-filled life of Catholic readers.
Founded in 1911, the CMA describes itself as an “organization of Catholic publishers and media professionals united in the action of servicing the Catholic Church.” Its Facebook page notes that its membership includes “nearly 250 publications and 500 individuals. Member print publications reach 10 million households plus countless others through our members’ websites and social media outlets.”
Clifford’s writings have appeared in Aleteia, Angelus, Cal Catholic, California Teacher, Catholic Exchange, Catholic News Agency, Catholic San Francisco, ChurchPop, Crux, Philippine Daily Inquirer, San Diego Reader, Today’s Catholic Teacher, among others. Clifford has been a guest speaker on radio and to school, church, and service groups.
Clifford received a B.A. in Social Science from the University of Great Falls (Montana) and M.A. in Catholic School Teaching from the University of San Francisco. He has been a teacher in the schools of the Archdiocese of San Francisco since 1997. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and son.
Judges at the Catholic Media Association deemed the following:
2nd place in the category of Pilgrimages/Catholic travel Books
“This nicely designed account of the author’s 800-mile foot journey on the California Missions Trail includes renditions of period maps, photographs of key people involved in the establishment and operations of the missions, and the author’s reflections. Each chapter also includes information about the experiences of the founding friars and the Native peoples as well as the author-pilgrim’s experience.”
3rd place in the category of Newly Canonized Saints
“This book was very informative with cute illustrations. It was written in first-person narrative, so that it sounds like an autobiography, and follows the life of the saint and those whom he influenced. The language was easy to understand. I enjoyed this simple explanatory book that detailed the history and relationships of this canonized saint.”
Soon after Pope Francis announced in early 2015 that Junípero Serra would be canonized, I began a journey of discovery. My research has led to writing four books and so much more. It has been a blessing “keeping the Mission Spirit alive”, as a fan put what I do.
I am especially thankful for your continued support. I began my journey with the sole intent of helping inform the mind and soul. I now add informing the body with my latest book, Pilgrimage: In Search of the Real California Missions. I hope that I have been able to inform and inspire you in some way.
As we returned to some semblance of normalcy in 2021, I hope that you continued to call on St. Junipero Serra and Pablo Tac. They teach us how to overcome adversity with the joy of the Gospel. I will never tire of sharing their stories. Here is a recap of how I did so in 2021.
Soon after Pope Francis announced in January 2015 that Junípero Serra would be canonized, I began a journey of discovery. Readers of my first book know the impetus. I am grateful for the following in 2020 in, what a colleague and friend of mine called, my apostolate.
I am very grateful to all others who have supported me along the way. I began this enterprise to help people understand that California mission history can help inform the mind and soul. Since May 2018, I have also learned that it can impact the physical, or body (more on that below). I hope that I have been able to inform you in some way.
The year 2020 has been a challenge for all of us. I hope that you have called on St. Junipero Serra. He can help teach us how to overcome adversity. He continues to inspire me to share his story with others. Here is a recap of how I did so in 2020.
Hard copies of my books have sold in 9 countries, including all 50 U.S. states + D.C. My first book was made available in braille through Xavier Society for the Blind.
I had a wonderful time sharing the story of my 800-mile pilgrimage on the California Missions Trail with the people at Spirit Juice Studios, the production company for the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council. I look forward to sharing the video with the world. Stay tuned!
I finished my pilgrimage of the 800+ mile California Missions Trail (the subject of my forthcoming book, Pilgrimage: In Search of the REAL California Missions). I raised over $2000. on Facebook’s Support Nonprofit and GoFundMe for my cause, Mission San Antonio de Padua.
The petition to nominate Pablo Tac for the cause of canonization is nearing 400 signatures!
I was a guest speaker at the following:
Serra Club of Bridgeport (CT). LA (Lower Alabama) Catholic Morning Show with Michelle and Todd, WNGL 1410 AM, Mobile. AL. Youtube channel podcast Sensus Fidelium with Steve Cunningham. St. Gregory Church, San Mateo, CA, 3rd grade Religious Education class, Distance Learning.
Merry Christmas!¡Feliz Navidad! عيد ميلاد سعيد!Maligayang Pasko! Bon Nadal! Feliz Natal! Fröhliche Weihnachten!Felicem natalem Christi!Happy New Year!¡Feliz año nuevo! สวัสดีปีใหม่! Maligayang bagong taon! Bon any nou! Felice anno nuovo! Bonne année!
Saint Junípero Serra and Pablo Tac, pray for us!
¡Siempre adelante y nunca para atrás! #GoGoStJunipero
Soon after Pope Francis announced in January 2015 that Junípero Serra would be canonized, I began a journey of discovery. Readers of my first book know the impetus. On the fifth anniversary of the start of my journey, I’d like to reflect on what a colleague and friend of mine called an apostolate.
First, a special thanks goes to my wife and son. It is not easy juggling home, work, and one’s passion. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
Next, I am very grateful to all others who have supported me along the way. I began this enterprise to help people understand that California mission history can help inform the mind and soul. Since May 2018, I have also learned that it can impact the physical, or body (more on that below). I hope that I have been able to inform you in some way.
Last, though I have had some obstacles along the way (haters), since the journey started I have had some amazing experiences.
one book about California mission history has led to three books in a three year span (countries where physical have sold — U.S.A., Philippines, Japan, Canada, Italy, U.K. — and in 30 states + D.C. )
have gone beyond the goal of having my books in the nine missions founded by St. Junípero Serra gifts shops
was interviewed on a national radio show and a podcast
started social media platforms (FB Followers Top 5 1. U.S.A. 2. Philippines 3. Mexico 4. Spain 5. Canada & Twitter Followers Top 5 1. U.S.A. 2. Mexico 3. Spain 4. U.K. 5. Italy)
Top FB post — 1/28/2018 about my son’s Mission Project reached 9,000+
Top Tweet impressions — 7/2019 — 11.1K
Most views for www.Missions1769.com — 7/2/2019; top clicks on image of missions at right (see below)
(originally published Oct 4, 2013 in Catholic San Francisco)
I recently went to the circus for the first time since I was a child. The show lived up to its name, “Built to Amaze.” I saw awe in my 5-year-old’s face. After immersing myself in Blessed Junipero Serra’s story, I can say with confidence that he was created to amaze.
For me, the gist is this: Serra left the comforts of Mallorca, Spain, to bring a new vision of love to total strangers. He personally baptized 98 percent of adult converts at Mission Carmel. He walked an estimated 4,000 miles in what is now California, with a seriously injured leg. When at his headquarters in Carmel, he slept on a wood board with four legs. He often pleaded with the crown and its agents, always suggesting to never forget the words of Jesus: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Nothing could get in Serra’s way of pruning the vineyard he found himself. According to records at The Early California Population Project, Serra’s legacy was 101,000 baptisms, 28,000 marriages and 71,000 burials at all 21 missions and from the Los Angeles Plaza Church and the Santa Barbara Presidio. He alone confirmed 4,076. He embodied what St. Augustine shared, “Do not turn away from the one who made you, even to turn toward yourself.”
By visiting The Huntington Library exhibit commemorating Serra’s 300th birthday in San Marino, I wanted to learn more how to be a man of faith through Serra’s experiences. My prayer to Serra was that by visiting the exhibit and its 250 artifacts from 60 lenders, more light would be shed on his life so that I can better inspire the young men that I teach.
The Huntington is such a massive place that I actually got lost. When I saw two Norbertine priests and their students from St. Michael Preparatory School in Silverado,
I knew I was on the right track. Many of the objects at the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries, Erburu Wing resonated with my own faith journey. There was Serra’s notebook used as a student from 1731-1735 in Palma, Mallorca, reminding me of the intellect’s place in discipleship. I reflected on my vocation as teacher while peering at Serra’s personal
Bible (Venice, 1508), used while a professor in Palma. The letter from Abraham Lincoln dated March 18, 1865, returning the mission property to the Order Friars Minor, made me hope for better days ahead in church-state relations in America. While driving back to the Bay Area and hearing my 5-year-old son say “Are we home yet?” for the upteenth time, I recalled the 18th-century Franciscan tunic (habit) on display, worn until it fell off the body, a physical reminder of the order’s vow of Christian poverty. Serra must have
been smiling down on us. What I was most amazed by was an artifact that told so many stories. The baptism record from Petra, dated Nov. 24, 1713, for “Miguel Joseph Serre, son
of Antoni and Margarita Ferrer, a married couple,” made me think of my own baptism being noted at St. Andrew’s in Daly City. I am part of a
Let us pray that Serra’s life devoted to the service of others becomes better understood and that we more sincerely live the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary.” He will amaze.
Christian Clifford is the author of three books about Catholic Church history in Spanish-Mexican California. For more information, visit www.Missions1769.com.