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(Courtesy photo)

Misión San Rafael served as a hospital from 1817-22, then became a full-fledged mission and was “secularized” in 1834.

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Mission San Rafael celebrating bicentennial
November 29th, 2016
By Tom Burke

It is going to take a year but in those 12 months, the beauty, strength, hope, and most of all, faith brought over the last 200 years to the Bay Area and wider regions by Misión San Rafael Arcangel will be celebrated. The Marin community of faith begins the bicentennial of the mission’s foundation with Mass Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is principal celebrant. Msgr. Romulo A. Vergara, pastor, will be among the concelebrants.

“On Dec. 17, 2016, Misión San Rafael Arcangel will be launching a yearlong bicentennial celebration,” Msgr. Vergara said. “In preparation for this event we will be highlighting the role that our Misión San Rafael has played through these 200 years. Culminating with a festivity that will encompass the multicultural diversity English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Brazilian that has been serving this community of faith, the city of San Rafael, and county of Marin.”

Teri Brunner, mission curator from 2005-2015, is helping in the planning of the yearlong effort. The year “marks a milestone in serving a multicultural community,” Brunner told Catholic San Francisco.

The mission served from 1817 until 1822 as a hospital then becoming what Brunner called a “full-fledged” mission until becoming “secularized” in 1834. “It was made an outpost for Gen. Fremont and Kit Carson in 1846/1847 and then by 1861 the old adobe walls were torn down. Sadly, in 1863 President Lincoln tried to save all of the missions but two years too late for Mission San Rafael,” Brunner said.

A prelude to the Mass Dec. 17 includes Archbishop Cordileone initiating the ringing of the mission bells calling worshippers to prayer, then a procession into the church led by the archbishop, clergy, and invited dignitaries. After opening rites of the Mass, the names of those first baptized at the mission will be read by a representative of the Graton Rancheria tribe. Languages in the Mass, in addition to English, will include Spanish, Vietnamese and Portuguese as spoken by natives of Brazil. Recognized for their histories with the mission, Franciscan Friars, Dominican Sisters, and Native Americans will be part of the presentation of the gifts.

The parish and mission have more than 300 volunteers assisting in its work. More than 3,000 families call it home. Some 400 visitors stop by each week. Organizers are now planning what hopes to be an activity a month during the bicentennial year including concerts and lectures.

Visit or call (415) 454-8141.

Prayer in Commemoration of the 200-year Anniversary of Misión San Rafael Arcángel
Loving God,

Two hundred years ago you moved hearts and minds to establish a mission in this place, under the patronage of St. Raphael, Angel of Healing. Today, in the city named for the angel, you continue to bless this multi-cultural community, enriching it through sacraments, education, and compassionate care of those seeking help.

Please guide us on our journey into future years. Teach us to know you clearly, love you deeply, serve you generously, and trust joyfully that one day, in the company of St. Raphael and all those gone before us, we may live with you forever in heaven.


From December 1, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.

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