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By Allison Jarrell

This week Mission San Juan Capistrano kicked-off its “Hope for the Pope,” campaign, an effort aimed to bring Pope Francis to San Juan in honor of Fr. Junípero Serra’s canonization in September.

The pope announced Fr. Serra’s canonization in January, and so far his fall trip to the U.S. includes East Coast stops in Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. The Catholic News Service reported that Pope Francis plans to canonize Fr. Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.

Despite his tentative plans, Mission San Juan Capistrano’s executive director Mechelle Lawrence-Adams has hope that the pope will visit San Juan’s mission and the Serra Chapel—the only chapel still standing where Fr. Serra celebrated mass.

To do this, the mission has begun reaching out to the public using social media, an online petition and other outreach efforts to rally support. Lawrence-Adams said the mission is also working on establishing tours focused on the legacy of Fr. Serra, debuting an exhibit the week of his canonization and hosting academic lectures based on Serra’s written history. In addition, Lawrence-Adams would like to get a delegation to D.C. and broadcast the canonization live at the mission.

“I think San Juan Capistrano as a community, regardless of individual faith and traditions, can take great pride in knowing their town is on the world stage of something very special,” Lawrence-Adams said.

To sign the mission’s online petition, visit: www.missionsjc.com/visit/PopeVisitMissionSJC.php.

The mission has also started a social media campaign calling for people to post selfie videos on their social media sites, explaining why they think the pope should visit Mission San Juan Capistrano. Videos uploaded can be linked to the mission’s campaign by using: #PopeVisitMissionSJC. To see the mission’s example featuring Lawrence-Adams, visit the mission’s Facebook page.

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