Bay Area Tribal Members to Play Major Role in Papal Mass Canonizing Fr. Serra

Mr. Andy Galvan and Mr. Vincent Medina, cousins and members of the Ohlone Indian tribe in the San Francisco Bay Area, will play prominent roles in the Papal Mass celebrating the canonization of Blessed Father Junípero Serra in Washington, D.C. next week.   Bl. Fr. Serra is the Franciscan missionary largely credited with establishing California’s mission system. 

Galvan will carry a reliquary containing a first-class relic of Bl. Fr. Serra to a prominent place of honor next to the altar where Pope Francis will celebrate Mass.  Medina has translated and will present the first scripture reading (Isaiah 52: 7-10) in Chochenyo, the native language of the Ohlone people in the East Bay.

“There is magic in Fr. Serra’s sainthood. It will be the culmination of a life’s work for me,” Galvan said.  “After working on these issues for almost four decades, it will be ceremonial opening of the door that will ‘let us Indians in,’ a moment I honestly didn’t think I would live to see.”

Galvan is a former Franciscan seminarian who has been associated with the sainthood cause of Bl. Fr. Serra for much of his adult life. An historian and curator of Mission Dolores in San Francisco, Galvan oversees the museum and grounds, with the responsibility of telling the story of the Mission, the Indians and the Friars who lived there.

Medina is the assistant curator at Mission Dolores.  As with many Native American languages, the use of Chochenyo nearly died out, but Medina has been instrumental in its revival, and has dedicated himself to studying, preserving and expanding its use.

"Being able to give the scripture reading in the native language of my people is a powerful thing," Medina said. "I am proud and humble that the Holy Father and half a billion people around the world watching the Mass will get to hear it,” Medina said.

In addition to his responsibilities at the Mission, Galvan will also be heading up a major project for the Franciscans and for the bishops in California to review and revise the cultural content and displays at the California missions to better reflect modern understandings of the Mission Era and the relationship between Spanish civil authority, the Catholic Missions and local Indian tribes.

It will include a review of displays and signage, updates to materials used to train docents and guides, and similar updates to artwork and presentations on Mission and related websites.  This initiative will not be limited to history, however.  It will also advise on ways to make the Missions relevant and inviting for tribal members today.

The Mass celebrating the canonization of Bl. Fr. Junípero Serra will take place Wednesday, September 23 at 4:15pm ET/1:15pm PT at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the campus of Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Additional media resources are available at


The initiatives on Curriculum and Cultural Review are a joint project of the Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara and the California Catholic Conference.  The Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara oversees the activities of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) in the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico. 

The California Catholic Conference is the public advocacy office of the Bishops of California. Representing the Archbishops of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the Bishops of Fresno, Monterey, Oakland, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Rosa and Stockton, it is the official voice of the 10 million Catholics and their many parishes, schools, universities, and social service agencies in California.


Printer Friendly, PDF & Email