By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published October 2, 2015
WASHINGTON—Pat DeJarnett, who prayed for years that Padre Junipero Serra would be declared a saint, witnessed that canonization Sept. 23 among 25,000 people on the lawn around the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
“We have prayed so long for this, and it finally came. It was just incredible,” said DeJarnett, who leads the Office of Divine Worship of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
She also serves on the board for the U.S. Council of Serra International and has been active in Serra since 1997. Along with Serrans from as far afield as Scotland, Nigeria, Italy, Thailand, Uruguay, Paraguay and Australia, she received one ticket to the canonization Mass.
“It was like the first time we had the Eucharistic Congress at the Georgia International Convention Center,” she said, with its reverence and prayerfulness amid thousands of people. “It was so quiet.”
“You could really concentrate on the Mass. People were praying and watching and listening to Pope Francis. It was amazing. … The music was good and supportive of the Mass. Everybody participated.”
St. Junipero founded 21 missions in the late 1700s in what is now California, reflected in the names of San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Clara. The vocations organization named for Serra was formed in Portland, Oregon, IN 1935 by four men who played poker and wanted to do something with their winnings, DeJarnett said. “They decided to support vocations in their church. … They took his name because he was basically the founder of all the missions in California.”
St. Junipero Serra’s saying, which they all follow, is, “Always forward, never back.”
She sees the saint’s miracle in the healing of a painful rift within Serra International and the U.S. Council. “We all prayed for his intercession for us to heal. … We are all working together. It is all healed.”
Being in Washington for the Mass was “a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ll never forget it.”
“People were coming out of the woodwork. The town was electric. Everybody in the airport was talking about Francis. They were all gathered around watching Francis on TV. People that weren’t Catholic were watching Francis,” she said.
At the Mass, he arrived in the Fiat, but got into the popemobile and went around the perimeter of the huge crowd so that he could get closer to everyone there.
“Those who were furthest away got to have the best look at him,” DeJarnett said.
“He is so gregarious and outgoing. I think Archbishop (Wilton D.) Gregory put it really well when he said he is comfortable with himself. I think that is really a good way to put it. He is smiling and waving and touching everybody he is able to touch.”