Blog - Catholic Action for Faith and Family

Portolá 250 – St. Margaret Mary Church

In Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Latin Style

September 13th in this year of 2019 brought additional significance to the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima, as it was the 102nd anniversary of the fifth apparition of Fatima.

Along the route of the Portolá 250, we have experienced a wide variety of worship styles, from modern to traditional and everything in between. The highlight of tonight’s program at St. Margaret Mary in the heart of Oakland, CA was a true treasure of our Faith— hearing the Litany of Loreto in Latin. Hearing the names of Our Lady in Latin, in a beautiful church, filled with awe and reverence, made this night particularly special. Processing around the block in the middle of Oakland, California with Our Lady and an entourage of ladies veiling also was a sight to be seen and an experience to be remembered. 

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Portolá 250 – Mission San Luis Rey

Founded in June 13, 1798, Mission San Luis Rey is located in Oceanside, CA, just outside of San Diego.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia - The King of the Missions still reigns!

Named in honor of France’s King Louis IX, a Spanish ally, Mission San Luis Rey is nicknamed King of the Missions. Its beautiful church façade is a perfect example of late mission architecture. As we headed to the Mission’s expansive grounds, we did so without the rolling billboard, as it was waiting for a mechanic to fix it back in Carlsbad, CA. Although we had the GPS on our iPhones working well, we enjoyed being guided by one of the 585 mission bells located on the highway markers commemorating the “Historic El Camino Real” across the state.

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Portolá 250 - St Andrew Church & Old Pasadena

Breathtaking Parish and Thomas McKenna Joins the Portolá 250 in Old Town Pasadena…In Style! A Must Read…A Must See


St. Andrew

The visit to St. Andrew Church in Old Pasadena was, well, breathtaking. I was thankful to arrive early with my son Alex, who was traveling with me. This would be Alex’s last stop before I drove him home for school the next day and let’s just say he, along with myself, were over the moon with the experience. Founded in 1886, the oldest Catholic parish in Pasadena and one of the oldest in Los Angeles Country, St. Andrew was one of the most beautiful churches I’ve been in.

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Portolá 250 – Cardinal Burke’s Words of Support

His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke Calls All to Prayer just as the Pilgrimage to Visit 21 Missions in 21 Days Commences

Cardinal Raymond Burke giving homily on Portola 250 pilgrimage during Holy Mass for Operation Storm Heaven live from his private chapel, September 1st, 2019

The year 2019 marks the 250th anniversary of the Portolá Expedition which brought the Catholic Faith to California. A new trek termed the “Portolá 250” set out the eve of August 31st to bring Catholics together across California to commemorate this anniversary of the founding of the 21 California Missions with a modern-day road trip from August 31-September 22.

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Portolá 250 – Mission Stop #3

Home Sweet Home

Founded November 1, 1776 by St. Junípero Serra, Mission San Juan Capistrano is located in the present-day city of San Juan Capistrano, California in Orange County. The Mission was originally built as a self-sufficient community, where it became a center for agriculture, industry, education, and religion.

Nicknamed “the Jewel of the Missions”, Mission San Juan Capistrano was a bit of a homecoming for me as this is where I grew up. San Juan, while not my hometown now, was a place I fondly remember as a kid bike-riding into town and gazing at the ruins of the old Stone Church, the one destroyed by the earthquake of 1812. It is where they have the annual Swallows Day Parade to commemorate the swallows coming back to Capistrano each year on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th). The reason why I know that, is on this day each year, it just happens to also be my mother’s birthday.

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Portolá 250 – Titles of Our Lady

A Variety of Devotions to Our Lady to Mirror Diversity of Cultures

What struck me most as we walked into La Purisima Catholic Church in Orange, CA on Thursday, September 5th is the presence there of a great devotion to Our Lady under a variety of her titles.

As you may know, the Diocese of Orange County is extremely diverse in ethnicity, and it was beautiful to see this diversity reflected in the different scenes representing different titles of Our Lady set up in the church there. To add to the mix, we brought the Pilgrim Virgin statue of Fatima. It was amazing to see cultures and languages from all over the world coming together in one common Faith. No other institution other than the Catholic Church does that! In fact, the word ‘Catholic’ means ‘Universal’. But La Purisima does a special job of celebrating this diversity of cultures in their community.

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Portolá 250 – Sacred Relics

Bringing Treasures of the Church to the Faithful

We are blessed, as we proceed in our pilgrimage, to carry with us throughout California some of the most cherished treasures of the Catholic Church: sacred relics. More specifically, a reliquary containing several special relics has been entrusted to Catholic Action for Faith and Family to share with the faithful in churches and amidst other devotional activities.

I was touched as I observed the reactions of those who lined up to venerate the reliquary which keeps the sacred relics. It was like a soothing balm for the pilgrims and visitors, which helped to create such a solemn yet joyous environment and lingering sense of reverence whereby they desired to remain for hours.

Photo credit: David Maung

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Portolá 250 - Day 2 ‘Evening Visit'

The Travel Team Stops at Home Parish in Carlsbad, CA to Recharge our Batteries…. Literally!

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church, Carlsbad CA during a winter rain.

Sunday evening, September 1st, we arrived home to relax a night before heading back out on the road. I heard from my wife Hélèna and kids that during the earlier Masses our good friend from our home parish, Deacon Jerry Heitschmidt, announced we would be coming by saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” This benefit however was more for us knowing everyone there.

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Portolá 250 - Day 2 Mission San Diego

First Mission Stop at Mission San Diego de Alcalá

“Founded in 1769 by Saint Junípero Serra, Mission San Diego de Alcalá is located in present-day San Diego, California. Both the mission and its surrounding territory are named for the Catholic Didacus of Alcalá, better known as ‘San Diego’.

Mission San Diego de Alcalá, as the first of the 21 Franciscan missions, appropriately gained its nickname ‘The Mother of the Missions’. Our pilgrim crew arrived at this Mission just before the noon Mass on Sunday, September 1st, with the World Apostolate of Fatima rolling billboard. My colleague, Anthony DeBellis, was joined by his son, Michael, present to support the project of his dad to visit 21 missions in 21 days and to explore together the treasures of our Faith and in this case, the first-ever of its kind built in California.

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Portolá 250 - Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima

Inaugural Tour Stop: Our Lady of the Rosary: Downtown San Diego

Blessed on May 13, 1951 at the close of the Holy Year designated by Pope Pius XII, part of the mission of the World-Famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue (IPVS) of Fatima is to bring the graces of Our Lady of Fatima to those around the world unable to make the pilgrimage to Fatima. Although my colleague, Thomas McKenna has been to Fatima numerous times having dedicated his life to serving the Church, I have not been.

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