Founded on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1782, San Buenaventura Mission is the ninth and last mission consecrated by Saint Junipero Serra. Named in honor of Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274: Cardinal and Doctor of the Church), it is known as the "Mission by the Sea".
The Old Mission welcomes visitors from sunrise until sunset. Known for its beautiful gardens and faithfully restored artifacts the mission is a always an experience to visit. Tours available daily.
As the Advent season opens before us, the Lord Jesus summons us to stand ready for his coming. At this time of the year much of our attention is focused on being prepared for the details that accompany the holiday season. We purchase gifts; we decorate our homes, inside and out; we prepare foods that we eat only during the holidays; we write and send Christmas cards; we attend holiday concerts; we prepare either to welcome family and friends into our homes or arrange for visits to their homes. We really can’t escape the details that make up the season. Perhaps this Advent is a time to attend to all those details with a different spin…no politics here. As we prepare to celebrate the feast of Christmas, why not be deliberate about acknowledging the presence of the Lord as we go about these tasks? The Lord often comes to us in wonderfully surprising ways. Let us be prepared.
You are cordially invited to join us for our liturgies. We celebrate Mass daily at 7:30 AM (8:15 AM on Tuesday during the school year). We have six Masses every weekend. Since the Lord's Day begins at sunset, we celebrate the Saturday Vigil at 5:30pm in English and 7:30pm in Spanish in the Old Mission Church. We celebrate three Sunday Masses in English at 7:30am, 9am and 12:15pm. We have a hugely attended Mass in Spanish at 10:30am in O'Brien Hall, the three story building behind the Mission church.
At the Mission, we often sing a hymn that reminds us of the presence of the Lord among us. One verse goes like this:
We are gathered at table as one in the Lord.
We are gathered as people who are living the Word.
Our hearts and our spirits are nurtured by grace.
It is Jesus who fills us. He is here in this place.
Join us, won't you?
To help sustain the legacy of our historic Mission: please remember Mission San Buenaventura in your Will or Trust planning.
"Siempre Adelante: United in the love of God as a Mission Family." Shalom, Fr. Tom Elewaut, Pastor.
Mission San Buenaventura will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monday, December 12, 2016:
5:00 AM: "Las Mañanitas" at 5:00 AM in O'Brien Hall featuring Mariachi Aguilas de Mexico. Mass in Spanish will begin at 5:30 AM in Spanish. The Guadalupana Society invites all in attendance for a delicious menudo breakfast in the Parish Center Auditorium.
6:00 PM: Danza México Cuauhtémoc will dance in Mission Church followed by a solemn procession down Main Street from Figueroa Plaza to Palm Street and up Palm Street to Junipero Serra Way to O'Brien Hall where Mass will be celebrated with a reenactment of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe by the Mission Parish Youth Group. After Mass the Guadalupana Society will serve chocolate and pan dulce.
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nestra Señora de Guadalupe is a title of the Virgin Mary associated with a celebrated pictorial image housed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in México City. Catholic accounts state that on the morning of December 9, 1531 Juan Diego saw an apparition of a young girl at the Hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City. Speaking to him in Nahuatl, the girl asked that a church be built at that site in her honor; from her words, Juan Diego recognized the girl as the Virgin Mary.
Diego told his story to the Spanish Archbishop of Mexico City, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, who instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, and ask the "lady" for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. The first sign was the Virgin healing Juan's uncle. The Virgin told Juan Diego to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill. Although December was very late in the growing season for flowers to bloom, Juan Diego found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, on the normally barren hilltop. The Virgin arranged these in his peasant cloak or tilma. When Juan Diego opened his cloak before Bishop Zumárraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The tilma of Juan Diego (who was canonized in 2002) is displayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the most visited Marian shrine in the world. The representation of the Virgin on the tilma is Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image, and under this title the Virgin has been acclaimed as "Queen of Mexico", "Patroness of the Americas", "Empress of Latin America", and "Protectress of Unborn Children" (the latter three given by Pope John Paul II in 1999). Under this title, she was also proclaimed "Heavenly Patroness of the Philippines" in 1935, a designation revised by Pope Pius XII in 1942.
Many of California's 21 missions still function as houses of worship.
Jay JonesChicago Tribune
On the winter solstice, as the sun rises in the dip between two hills, the amazing accomplishment of some 18th-century priests becomes crystal clear. Through an open window at Mission San Juan Bautista, a brilliant beam of light enters, bathing the altar in gold before traveling directly up the center aisle, gilding the 200-year-old, rust-colored tiles.
Each Dec. 21, on the shortest day of the year, people from near and far converge on this small town 90 miles southeast of San Francisco to witness what's come to be known as "the illumination." For some of those who pack the pews, the experience is nothing short of a Christmas miracle.
"It's very moving, actually," said Brian Steeger, a local who has attended several of the ecumenical, solstice services.
Completed in 1797, the church, named after St. John the Baptist, is the 15th of the 21 missions that brought Christianity to the West Coast. They stretch across more than 500 miles, from San Diego in the south to Sonoma in the north.
Despite calamities from pirate raids to earthquakes — for example, the infamous San Andreas Fault lies directly beside San Juan Bautista — most of the missions continue to function as places of worship. Their beauty, tranquillity and histories make them ideal places to witness the wonders of the season — from concerts by candlelight to live nativity scenes that recall the birth of Jesus.
The difficult task of finding a place for Mary to deliver her child is shared during Las Posadas, a Hispanic tradition that continues each December at several missions, from Los Angeles to San Jose.
"The tradition is based on Mary and Joseph traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem," the Rev. Tom Elewaut of Mission San Buenaventura (www.sanbuenaventuramission.org) explained. "Of course, Mary was pregnant, and her due time was during that travel. They were seeking shelter, but there was no shelter at the inn."
In Ventura, children play the roles of Mary and Joseph. A procession winds through the mission grounds.
"In the name of the heavens, I request lodging from you because my beloved wife can no longer walk," the young Joseph implores at several doors. Repeatedly, they are turned away.
"You can go now and don't bother us," they are told over and over.
Finally, on Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph find refuge.
"Happy is this house that shelters today the pure virgin, the most beautiful Mary," a welcoming innkeeper tells the couple.
Visitors are invited to share in Las Posadas — in English, "the inns" — which typically are staged over nine nights to represent Mary's nine months of pregnancy. Depending on the evening and the location, the chants may be in either English or Spanish. They're even conducted in Vietnamese one evening each year at Mission San Gabriel Arcangel (www.sangabrielmissionchurch.org) on the modest, original town site of what's now sprawling Los Angeles.
Thirty miles up the coast in chic Santa Barbara, December visitors to Old Mission Santa Barbara (www.santabarbaramission.org) find large wreaths and trees beside the front door.
Founded 230 years ago this month, the "Queen of the Missions" — so called because of its impressive, regal setting atop a hill — remains home to a community of Franciscan friars. The current church was dedicated in 1820 after the previous adobe building was crumbled by an earthquake.
The faithful are invited to gather outside the majestic mission at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 for an evening of Christmas carols. Toward the close, "Silent Night" is sung as participants walk to a creche erected earlier in the day on the mission's spacious lawn.
Barnyard animals from the other side of the Santa Ynez Mountains will be gathered to replicate those Mary and Joseph found in Bethlehem. They will remain outside the mission until after Christmas.
The first of the missions, San Diego de Alcala (www.missionsandiego.org), was founded in July 1769, by Father Junipero Serra. According to a historical marker, the Spanish priest "planted civilization in California."
"Here he first raised the cross," a brass plaque reads. "Here (he) founded the first town, San Diego." Serra was made a saint last year.
For 40 years on the Saturday and Sunday before Christmas, it has been standing room only for the mission's Candlelight Musical Meditation.
Guests step aside as members of the Mission Choir file into the darkened church, singing joyously as they proceed past the pews.
The parish priest offers his greeting to those assembled as the choristers climb the stairs to their loft. They're joined by musicians with their instruments: bassoons, clarinets, drums, flutes, trumpets, violins and more.
Familiar carols such as "The First Noel" and "Joy to the World" are performed, along with lesser-known songs of the season. The music is interspersed with readings from Scripture. Following the service, guests file into the church hall for holiday refreshments.
At the solstice celebration up in San Juan Bautista (www.oldmissionsjb.org), there's a regular among those who gather each Dec. 21. Professor Ruben Mendoza, an archaeologist from California State University at Monterey Bay, continues to cast a scientific eye on the mystical illumination, a phenomenon he has researched at some other missions as well.
Mendoza said the Spanish priests who designed the churches were far more than preachers of the Gospel. He said they had to have had a remarkable knowledge of both architecture and astronomy to precisely position the buildings to capture the sun.
"In my experience studying the solar geometry of these churches, there are dimensions of this that have to be more than coincidental," he said.
"I try to retain my identity as a scientist in each and every case, but it challenges that identity," he added. "To watch the light pulsating … one could argue it is a form of divine plan."
Jay Jones is a freelance writer.