Each state and territory of the United States of America is represented by two statues of their choosing to line the halls of our nation’s capital. Among them are five priests and religious, including Saint Damian who worked and died with the lepers at Molokai, Hawaii. With him is Servant of God, Father Eusebius Kino, who reconnoitered what would become the state of Arizona. From the State of Washington, Mother Mary Joseph Pariseau is honored as a pioneer and humanitarian. Father Jacques Marquette, S.J., was an explorer and missionary, credited for his discovery of the Mississippi River, crossing the Wisconsin River, and now he proudly represent the Badger State.
The fifth religious figure is that of Blessed Junipero Serra, the Spanish-born Franciscan missionary, who is credited for founding more than 20 missions in California. His statue depicts him holding a large bronze cross as he gazes toward the heavens. His legacy to the country is 250 years in the making. He has been in our nation’s capital since 1931.
Blessed Junipero, however, has been served with an eviction notice. Even while Pope Francis announced he will canonize America’s first Latino saint when he visits the United States in September, pending validation by the California legislature, the state senate has voted to remove the soon-to-be saint. Who have California’s legislators chosen to replace Saint Junipero? Sally Ride, 1980’s astronaut and professed lesbian. Although her achievements as a woman and in space exploration are worthy of respect, would she be memorialized in this way if she were also a wife and mother?