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Never Turn Back: Father Serra's Mission
Never Turn Back: Father Serra's Mission
(James J. Rawls, Alex Haley, George Guzzi)

Never Turn Back: Father Serra's MissionNever Turn Back: Father Serra's Mission
Never Turn Back: Father Serra's Mission describes the life of the Spanish priest, Father Junípero Serra, who established missions in California in the late eighteenth century and discusses the lack of understanding between him and the Indians he came to convert.
In 1769 Father Serra journeys to Alta California to found a Catholic mission among the American Indian people. If successful, it will be the first Spanish settlement in present-day California.
Father Serra is an extremely important figure in the development of present-day California. His missions not only served as the centerpiece to the development of Catholicism in California, but also as a key foundation to the growth of other cities such as San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego.
Father Junípero Serra's legacy still remains along the former El Camino Real (the present-day Highway 101 & San Diego Freeway) in the form of twenty-one missions, nine of which he personally founded and developed. Each mission has its own individual identity, history, and unique traditions.
The Mission System was implemented under the guidelines of the Catholic Church and the Spanish government. They were set up to become the primary center of evangelization to Christianize the Native Americans, and also were designed to train the natives to become successful tradespeople in the new Spanish society.
Alex Haley, as General Editor, wrote the following introduction:
Introduction By Alex Haley, General Editor
Gold, Glory, and God. In school I learned how the three G's launched the ships of empire. Gold, Glory, and God brought the Spanish (and other Europeans, but the Spanish first and most spectacularly) to the Americas. Gold and Glory came to Cortés and Pizarro with the bloody conquests of the Aztec and Mayan empires.
The conquerors were not alone. With them came missionaries who spread Christianity like a blanket over the defeated Indian populations. The missionaries came with extraordinary zeal. They came after the conquerors stopped coming. They came with those who built small settlements to claim American Indian lands for Spain so that other Europeans would not claim those same lands for England, France, or Russia. The best of them had sympathy, as Jim Rawls writes in his afterward, but not understanding.
Father Serra was one of the best of them. People feel strongly about Serra. Some are sure he is a hero, a saint. Others are sure that he is a villain, a destroyer of a people and their culture. His story shows how tangled are the roots of our history. His story shows the importance of understanding and how much is lost in its absence. ~ Alex Haley.
(The above Foreword by Alex Haley is presented under the Creative Commons License. © 1993 Dialogue Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Never Turn Back: Father Serra's Mission • Reviews
"This book offers very good information about Father Serra, and it's easy for children to read. Some of the other books on Father Serra were too long for young children to read. I was very interested while reading the book, and I enjoyed it." - Hillsdale, California.
"This is a good, easy to read book for California history, taught in 4th grade. It conveys the motives of Junípero Serra's mission to establish missions in Alta California. It also emphasizes the views of the indigenous peoples who were affected. Good for an introduction for 4th grade students." - San Jose, California.
"This book was easy to read and understand and contains a lot of information regarding Father Serra. It is a great resource to use in the classroom. It is written in a form that provides just enough information for the average 4th or 5th grade student." - Otay, California.
"This book tells the story of Junipero Serra's journey to the New World to bring Christianity to the American Indians. It focuses on the courage and determination of Serra to accomplish the task." - Cambium Learning.
"Never Turn Back, a biography of Junípero Serra, handles well the controversy about his impact on Native Americans. In considering Serra's life from the time he became a priest to the founding of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, it shows Serra as a real person who was sympathetic but lacked an understanding of other cultures." - California Online Resources For Education.

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