California Catholic Leaders Commit to Reconciliation Process with Mission Indians; 18-month Project Aimed at Enriching the Mission Experience and Enhancing School Curriculum

SACRAMENTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Most Rev. Jaime Soto, Bishop of Sacramento and president of the
California Catholic Conference, today announced an ambitious 18-month
program to review and revise the cultural content and displays at the
California missions under Church authority and to undertake a similar
effort to review the Third and Fourth Grade curriculum in Catholic
schools to better reflect modern understandings of the Mission Era and
the relationship between Spanish civil authority, the Catholic Missions
and local Indian tribes.

“The Mission Era gave rise to modern California, but it also gave rise
to controversy and to heartache when seen through the eyes of the First
Californians,” said Bishop Soto. “For many years, the Indian experience
has been ignored or denied, replaced by an incomplete version of history
focused more on European colonists than on the original Californians.”

“Today, on the verge of Blessed Fr. Serra’s canonization, the time has
come to confront that incomplete history and to work with Native
American educators, respected historians, Catholic school officials and
others to change that and to reflect the best scholarship we can about
that era,” said Fr. Ken Laverone, provincial vicar of the Franciscan
Province of Santa Barbara, a partner with the Catholic bishops of
California in this effort.

The committee overseeing the curriculum review will be led by the Most
Rev. Edward Clark, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
and a long-time liaison with California’s Native American communities.
The curriculum review will consider culturally-sensitive and
historically accurate enhancements to the Third Grade portrayals of
Indian life, as well as to the traditional Fourth Grade teaching on the
Missions themselves.

The purpose of the Curriculum Committee is not to endorse or debate the
canonization of Blessed Fr. Serra, but to use the occasion of the
canonization to engage in an open and respectful dialogue aimed at a
better understanding and presentation of the Mission Era and its
aftermath to school children and the public.

The cultural study of the Missions will be led by Andrew Galvan, curator
of Mission Dolores in San Francisco and a member of the Ohlone tribe. 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.

“By definition, ‘reconciliation’ isn’t just about the past, it’s also
about the future,” said Bishop Soto. “And the future of California’s
Missions won’t be complete until tribal members feel welcomed and
included in Mission life today.”

The initiatives on Curriculum and Cultural Review are a joint project
of the Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara and the California Catholic
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


for California Catholic Conference
Kevin Eckery, 916-443-2528