2019 Solemn High Mass at Mission Santa Clara on 189th Death Anniversary of Holy Man of Santa Clara

On Friday, November 22, Canon Raphael Ueda, Rector of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory in San José, celebrated a Solemn High Mass for the Feast of St. Cecilia and led a prayer for the canonization of Servant of God Father Magin Catalá, O.F.M., at Mission Santa Clara on the Santa Clara University campus. Canon Jean-Marie Moreau, returning for a visit, served as Deacon, and gave the homily. Original "California Mission Mass" music written down by the missionaries for the converted native Americans to sing was also sung by the choir during the Mass.

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That night, the Institute of Christ the King priests celebrated what probably was the first Solemn High Mass at the Mission church in the Santa Clara University Campus for fifty years. The combination of the beauty of the church, the vestments and rituals of the Mass, and the music was sublime.

It is moving to realize that the traditional Latin Mass and the sacred music that was sung there during mission days returns to the Mission Santa Clara once a year. And it is equally significant that the cause for canonization of the saintly missionary Father Catalá, who labored there for the thirty-six years until his death in 1830, is remembered there in prayer every year on a day that is on or close to his death anniversary of November 22. 

This video records the Kyrie from the California Mission Mass.

The California Mission Mass music is part of a collection compiled by California composer John Biggs from music in the archives in Mission Santa Barbara.  The choir also sang Cantico del Alba from that same collection. The evening provided a profound glimpse into how much beauty the padres brought to the natives in their worship of the one true God and how much hope and love they gave in the religion they taught.

Father Catalá is much less well known than Saint Junipero Serra, but he was highly revered during his lifetime and his death was greatly lamented by the many converted natives and Spanish soldiers and settlers who he served at Mission Santa Clara. Click here for a short introduction to Father Catatlá's life.

During the homily, Canon Moreau spoke of the importance for the Catholic identity of an area when the people can revere a local saint. He compared Father Catalá to another holy man he learned about during his three years in Mauritius, Africa. Blessed Jacques-Désiré Laval, the "Apostle of Mauritius,” died in 1864 and is still an inspiration to the people there today, in the same way Father Magin Catatlá, the “Holy Man of Santa Clara,” is inspiring people in the Santa Clara Valley.

Father Catalá died 189 years ago this year, on November 22, 1830.  Fr. Catalá is still revered by many who have come by various means to know about him and to love him the same way the people of his time did.

Reports of several reliable witnesses (whose letters still can be viewed in the University of Santa Clara Library Archives) were given to church officials who were investigating the holy man’s cause for sainthood. Several reported they saw Father Catalá levitate when he prayed in front of a crucifix, and that the figure of Christ detached his hands from the cross and laid them on Father Catalá’s shoulders. That very same life-sized crucifix still hangs over an altar in the restored Santa Clara Mission Chapel. Not only did Father Catalá levitate like St. Joseph of Cupertino, he was also reportedly seen several times during his life in two places at once, bilocating like St. Padre Pio. Fifty-four years after he died in 1830, Father Catalá’s cause for canonization was taken up by Archbishop Alemany, the first bishop of San Francisco. Testimony about his life and virtue was submitted to Rome in 1909, but the cause for canonization of this worthy servant of God has stalled for the past 110 years.

Some Background

A lay group, along with interested priests, starting with Canon Moreau, began by holding rosary processions from the nearby former Oratory of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to Mission Santa Clara, which serves as the chapel for Santa Clara University. Eventually, the group received permission from the Jesuits who run the university to include a Traditional Latin Mass for the Feast of Saint Cecilia in their yearly commemoration. For the past four years, an annual Mass has been celebrated by Canon Raphael Ueda. A prayer for Father Catalá's canonization follows at the altar of the crucifix where Father Catalá was seen praying for long hours. Witnesses reported that Father Catalá levitated while praying and that the figure of Christ detached His arms from the crucifix and put His hands on Father Catalá's shoulders.

Prayer for Father Magin Catalá's Canonization

This prayer was granted an imprimatur by every bishop with jurisdiction over the mission since 1908.

O God, You sent Your holy servant, Father Magin Catalá, to preach Your gospel to Native Americans, and You inspired him to glorify Your holy name among them by the examplπe of his eminent virtues. We humbly ask You to honor Father Catalá on earth with the testimony of miracles performed through his intercession. Grant us by his merits all manner of blessings. Fill our minds with the light of Your truth that, walking always in the way of Your commandments, we may come to eternal union with You. We ask this through Christ our Lord.—Imprimatur + Patrick J. McGrath, Bishop of San Jose


The process for his canonization was initiated by Archbishop Alemany of San Francisco in 1882, testimonies were collected from those still alive who knew him, and necessary documents were submitted to Rome in 1909, but his cause has stalled since then.  Furthering the cause is now in the hands of the Franciscans, who plan to pursue it after certain matters associated with Saint Junipero Serra’s canonization are finalized.

Fifteen years ago, another unrelated group was separately drawn to start meeting every month at the mission to pray for Father Catalá's intercession and his canonization at the altar of the crucifix. The prayer group’s current meeting time is 5:30 p.m. on the last Friday of every month. Everyone is invited to join the yearly Mass or the monthly prayer group either in person or in spirit.

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