On a Mission by Carlos and Joseph Najera


In the late 1700s the Spanish crown was aware of the vulnerability of the Northwest Pacific Coast. Russian hunters and explorers are settling in Alaska and moving down the coast in search of furs and places to establish settlements. The Pacific West Coast was unexplored and unsettled by the Europeans.

In an effort to establish her presence the Spanish crown ordered the establishment of a series of missions. The goal would be to spread Christianity, establish commerce, and settle the land.

Father Junipero Serra was chosen to undertake this task he began what would turn out to be a series of 21 missions in what is now California.  Mission San Carlos Borromeo was founded on June 3, 1775 by him. The original location was in Monterey, on the other side of the peninsula.

The missionaries there decided that the native people, the Costanoan, and the Esselen, would be more comfortable away from the soldiers Monterey and built their mission settlement in what became the town of Carmel.

Father Serra loved this mission. He would spend the rest of his life devoted to God’s work and the missions, and when his life ended he was buried there.

Through the years the mission system was shut down. The church properties were sold off or just abandoned.   After many years of neglect most of the missions were in ruins.


It is our good fortune that people felt the need to preserve his wonderful structures. Very little was left of mission San Carlos de Borromeo. Through funding in dedicated workers the mission was again sparkles in the sun.


Today it is now an active Roman Catholic Church. It has a parochial school, a museum. It offers many social events such as weddings.


Here, Christina I are sitting in front of a cork tree. It is a variety of oak. Winemakers use the bark by shaping it into cylinders and sealing bottles of wine. We are outside the front of the church itself waiting for a wedding to begin.

Christie is feeling better now. We were now settled into our home in Santa Clara. The weather there is not nearly as extreme as the Imperial Valley. She seems to have all her strength and energy. She has lots of energy to go shopping, and all the other things that needs to be done around the house. Joe was still a boy and he keeps finding new ways of getting into mischief. Christie even has the energy to deal with him.


Here is my boy Joe. Sitting at the same tree many years after Christie and I sat there that wedding day. The cork tree still alive but it doesn’t look healthy anymore. I am hoping it can be saved.


A little to the right of the cork tree is this statue of Father Serra. The shadow of the tree is at the bottom of the picture.

The reason we are sitting there by that cork tree in 1963 is a happy one. One of our nieces was getting married. One of Christie’s brothers, Melecio, has one daughter and for this occasion we and many other family members have come to their town.

Melecio lives in Monterey. He works nearby as a teacher. They have arranged for the wedding to be at the Mission. It is a pretty place to visit and a wonderful place to hold a wedding.

We lived in the city of Santa Clara at the time. It was around 80 miles away from us. The Monterey Peninsula is a pretty place. It has a lot of history and, a lot of things to see. The Monterey Bay is part of the attraction so we go there often.


This is Christie’s sister Manuela and her husband Max. This picture of them was taken at the same occasion. They are in another part of mission grounds. They were godparents Joe and the girls. Both of us appreciate the sacrifices they made.   For many years Max worked at the naval base in Port Hueneme and also at the naval base at Point Mugu.

Here is the happy bride, Artemis Ledesma soon to be Mrs. William Warren.



There is the happy couple next to both their mothers. There is so much promise on a wedding day. There is so much to look forward to, all of it seems good on your wedding day. Family members I haven’t seen in years showed up. I was happy to see them spend some time catching up. Some of those good folks I never saw again. That’s part of it too, good and the bad of it, looking forward to things that come.

Monterey and the surrounding areas and valleys had a powerful connection to us, Christie and I. It was those same feelings every time we came to Monterey, even if it was for a day. Being this close to the water always felt clean. The air was clean and the ocean breeze at times was cold but was always refreshing.

We love driving through the Seventeen Mile Drive, walking down Cannery Row. Fisherman’s Wharf held many attractions, many of which included fresh fish. Downtown Monterey preserved its old buildings and kept its charm. Many artists, writers, and other famous people made their homes around here.

Took us over 10 years after the wedding to finally decide to live here. Christie and I found a house in Pacific Grove. It was near the water and across the street from a golf course. When we first saw it we knew we wanted to live there. I wish I had pictures of that house.




About jedwardnajera

I am an artist and a Poet. I live the life of a poet. I published several novels. Nena the Fairy and the Iron Rose, Dust of the Moon are among them, available through Amazon Books. I have spent over thirty five years in a classroom. I am now retired from that profession. My father kept a living record of his lifetime as he lived through the Twentieth Century. He was born in 1908 and almost lived long enough to see us enter the new millennium. He entrusted to me nearly 400 pages that he wrote through the years. Now I am continuing the tradition by posting my own stories and misadventures. I am trying to post a new entry or chapter each Friday. Check in on us at least once a week for the latest post.
This entry was posted in autobiography, California History, Family History, Family Reunion, Monterey and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s