New Vision Kino Series

The New Vision, the newspaper of the Diocese of Tucson, presented a series of articles reflecting various aspects of Padre Kino's life and ministry in observance of the 300th year anniversary of his death in 2011.

His Legacy Spans The Pimería Alta
Father Greg Adolf

The late renowned priest/historian, Father Charles Polzer, S.J., was fond of saying that “in the ruddy dusk of March 13, 1687, Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino cantered into Cucurpe, and the history of this area changed.”

Padre Kino – the “Padre on Horseback” - entered the vast area spanning northern Sonora and southern Arizona, called the “Pimeria Alta” – (the land of the upper Pimas, named for its most numerous related-language Native People) – and for almost 25 years labored to evangelize the Natives of this region.

He founded 24 missions and many visitas, and established 19 rancherias, beginning the cattle industry of this area. In many of his mission settlements, he planted fruit trees and introduced new grains to augment the tradition crops of the Natives.

Folklorist Jim Griffith likes to tell those who have shared his Kino Mission tours that Padre Kino’s lasting legacy is secure whenever we enjoy carne asada wrapped in a flour tortilla.

A gifted mathematician, astronomer and cartographer, he made 14 expeditions across the region – and mapped an area 200 miles long and 250 miles wide – from his mission headquarters, Dolores in Sonora, to the Gila River and from the San Pedro River to the Colorado River. By careful scientific investigation and later by exploration and what we would call “field research,” he proved that California was not an island but a peninsula.

His interaction with the Native Peoples anticipated, by several centuries, that process now called “inculturation.” His sensitivity to Native protocol and custom, as well as his extraordinary gift for languages, made him an apt and eager learner of the wisdom of the Native Peoples and not simply a teacher of the Christian Faith.

During his 24 years in the Pimeria Alta, he traveled more than 50,000 square miles to proclaim the Word of God, to baptize and to exchange wisdom with the Native Peoples he loved so well.

On March 15, 1711 at Magdalena (now Magdalena de Kino), death ended his apostolic career, but not his lasting presence and influence in the lives of those of us who are his spiritual heirs.

Padre Kino’s Cause – the process leading to Sainthood – is underway in Rome.

In honor of the Tri-centennial of Padre Kino’s death, the Kino Heritage Society and the Diocese of Tucson are planning a series of special events, lectures and concerts throughout the year ahead.

Father Greg Adolf
His Legacy Spans The Pimería Alta
New Vision 
September 2010

Father Adolf is pastor of St. Andrews Catholic Church in Sierra Vista, Arizona and Vice-President of the Southwestern Mission Research Center.

Father Kino Brought Our Culture
Dr. Bernard L. "Bunny" Fontana

Can you imagine a Tucson or other southern Arizona town or city without streets forming city blocks? A southern Arizona lacking cattle, horses, or domestic livestock of any kind? Without rodeos or wheat flour tortillas?

A place where there is no literacy because there is no writing? An economy based entirely on sharing and barter with no relation to money? An architecture limited by the length of mesquite limbs? Time measured solely by the lengths of days and seasons of the year, with days and years unnamed and unnumbered, and no clocks? No metal tools of any kind?

If you can, then you can imagine many aspects of what our region was like when Father Eusebio Francisco Kino first arrived in Tumacácori in 1691, in the village of Wa:k (Bac) in 1692, and in Tucson in 1694.

It was Father Kino who brought the Old World to the New World of the northern Sonoran Desert, a region he labeled the “Pimería Alta,” the land of the Northern Piman (O’odham) Indians.

The rest of the inventory included chickens, lentils, barley, firearms, onions, garlic, melons, chick peas, and various kinds of fruit trees. And while Kino cannot be held individually accountable, he and his non-Indian contemporaries were responsible for the introduction of such Old World pathogens as smallpox, measles and flu. The Indians had no natural immunity to these fatal afflictions and uncounted numbers of them succumbed to epidemics.

A new language, a new music, and a new religion must be added among Kino’s gifts to posterity. He came to spread the Gospel, the good news of Christ Jesus as the harbinger of everlasting goodness and peace. Pax Christi was his accustomed greeting.

While we are accustomed to thinking of the tangible items brought here by Father Kino, the plants, animals, and European artifacts, they were his ideas and beliefs which have left their greatest impact. The bronze statue of Father Kino astride his horse is a tangible memorial.

But more lasting are the street alignments and corner blocks emanating from city planning in Roman times. More lasting are the ways in which we now conceptualize time and in which we take for granted the foods we enjoy and the kinds of houses in which we live.

It was the Jesuit padre on horseback who led the way. We have become his spiritual and cultural descendants.

Father Kino Brought Our Culture
Dr. Bernard L. “Bunny” Fontana
New Vision
November 2010

Dr. Fontana is a leading ethnohistorian and author about the Southwest & Northern Mexico.
His latest book is “A Gift of Angels: the Art of Mission San Xavier del Bac.”

Sainthood Process Underway
Raul E. Ramirez

On May 3, 2006, a Mexican delegation led by Archbishop Ulises Macias Salcedo of Hermosillo delivered to the Vatican the official documents for Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino’s beatification. 

At that time Archbishop Macias Salcedo requested that the collective communities of Northern Mexico, Segno, Italy and Arizona offer Masses, prayers, and penance for Padre Kino’s beatification. This process is under the purview of the Congregation of Saints led by Italian Archibishop Angelo Amato. 

On Feb. 7, 1998, Archbishop Macias Salcedo received the nulla osta (no impediment) from the Holy See to begin the “Cause for Beatification.”
The canonization process as applicable to Padre Kino’s Cause has four stages.

The first gives the title “Servant of God” and demands that the heroic virtue of the individual be indisputably established. Heroic virtue implies that the Servant of God has lived a life exemplified by the theological virtues of faith, hope, charity and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

In the second stage, “Venerable,” the Church allows the printing of holy cards to beseech the “confessor” for a miracle. 

The next stage is “Beatification” which bestows the title of “Blessed” and requires a miraculous cure. A feast day may be assigned but only in the home diocese and certain locations associated with the “confessor.”

The final stage, to become a Saint, requires an additional miracle. A feast day may be celebrated anywhere within the Church and churches may be built in the saint’s honor.

In mid 2010 the Congregation of Saints provided the canonical validity of the acts of the Process at Hermosillo by which the “Positio” can be started. The “Positio” is a summary of the documentation that proves the heroic exercise of virtue of the person being nominated.

The Jesuit Postulator, Father Toni Witwer, received the nomination of “Relator” in the Congregation and directs the elaboration of the “Positio.”

As an external collaborator he named Father Domenico Calarco as the Vice-Postulator for the Padre Kino’s Cause. 

It is hoped that the “Positio” can be finished next year when we celebrate the 300 year anniversary of Padre Kino’s death.

An anniversary Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas at noon on March 13 at St. Augustine Cathedral.

Sainthood Process Underway
Raul E. Ramirez
New Vision
November 2010

Mr. Ramirez is the vice-president of Los Descendentes del Presidio de Tucson and a board member of Friends of Tucson's Birthplace.

Padre Kino  -  The Astronomer
Father Chris Corbally, S.J

It is approaching Christmas, so watchers of the statue of Padre Kino on Kino Boulevard in Tucson will be looking for the red earmuffs. These have been appearing on the horse’s ears as a kindly seasonal gesture against the desert night’s cold.

Further along the left side of the horse, resting on Kino’s saddlebag, you will notice a round instrument with what looks like a cross spanning its diameter. This is an astrolabe, or an earlier version of a sextant, and it was used for measuring the positions of celestial objects.

Kino’s astrolabe is at the ready. On his travels he would use it to sight the Sun at noon, determining its height above the horizon. With the help of correction tables for each day of the year, he would then calculate his geographical latitude.

Kino knew his astronomy well, and he put it to good use in making the best map of this area, “Passo por Tierra a la California.” Drawn in 1707, it served even for a couple of centuries. On it were placed the missions and, most significantly, it showed that California, and so Baja California, was not an island but reachable across the Colorado River.

Perhaps Kino had used that very astrolabe to observe a Christmas comet which appeared in late 1680 and was visible both in Cádiz, where Kino was awaiting a ship, and Mexico, where he was bound. It was a prominent comet and caused a stir.

Now, the stir was not just because the comet was a beautiful object but because, since at least Roman times, they were taken as a sign of ill-omen. Misfortune was about to happen to someone prominent.

That was why Kino, when urged to write a book about this comet once he had got to Mexico City, started with the wish that the comet would be to the viceroy there “the happy messenger of your good fortune.” The cover of Kino’s little book, “Exposción Astronómica de el Cometa,” showed the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose protection no doubt would ensure these good wishes to his patrons.

Comet-watchers are well known around Southern Arizona, thanks to those same clear desert skies which enabled Kino to record at least two others during his travels. If they too see a Christmas comet, they can count it a blessing. Just don’t forget those earmuffs against the cold.

Padre Kino - The Astronomer
Father Chris Corbally, S.J.
December 2010

Father Corbally is an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory 

Padre Kino Was Not Alone
Father Eduardo C. Fernandez, S.J.

Little did I imagine the day when a delicious cheese and bean burrito, wrapped in a flour tortilla, would remind me of the renowned Jesuit missionary, Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645-1711).

On a recent tour of the Kino missions in northern Mexico, I heard the folklorist Jim Griffith remind us that Kino brought wheat, beef, and cheese to this part of the world. Of course, with it would come a whole new way of life, with all the ambiguities that that would entail.

Since first hearing about this amazing Italian's talents as missionary, rancher, astronomer, explorer, cartographer, linguist, and protector of indigenous peoples in northern Mexico and southwestern Arizona, I wondered how one person could excel in so many areas. Today, partly because of my religious and scholarly association with two deceased Jesuits, Ernest Burrus and Charles Polzer, who painstakingly labored to document Kino's and other Jesuits' missionary endeavors, I continue to hear of admiration for Kino.

But as Father Greg Adolf reminded us recently in a talk delivered at San Xavier del Bac, Kino was no "lone horseman- facing the dangers of the wilderness on his own ... [a type of] 'rugged individual' portraying Padre Kino as a kind of black - robed 'Marlboro Man'!" Father Adolf acknowledges that contemporary statuary would have us believe that his only companion on these long journeys was his horse. In the same address, we hear how he, like all missionaries, could not have survived or thrived without the assistance of "an astonishing array of persons: from his first translator, the blind Native catechist from Ures, to the Duchess of Aviero, from viceroys to the Native child!"

Missionaries could not have done what they did without the collaboration of many persons. Recent work in history and theology, is striving to pay attention not only to the great figures which shaped histories but the ordinary persons who made it possible for this very history to take place. I am often inspired by the love that Father Kino not only had for the indigenous peoples of this land, but also of the love they had for him. How much they must have taught him! In similar fashion, as part of an already then international religious order, the Jesuits or Society of Jesus, this gifted missionary had been trained not only in theology but also in the science, mathematics, and humanities of his day.

Padre Kino Was Not Alone
Father Eduardo C. Fernandez, S.J,
New Vision
February 2011
Father Fernandez is a professor at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Berkeley, California.

Living Memories of Father Kino
Dr. James  S. "Big Jim" Griffith

How, in a very few words, does one begin to express the living of Eusebio Kino's work in this region? Perhaps the following vignette of an evening spent with the cultural descendants of the folks he worked with three hundred years ago might serve.

It is midnight, sometime in the late 1980s, and I am driving toward Tucson with several musician friends. We are O'odharn, Yaquis, Mexicanos and an Anglo. We have been attending a wake in a tiny village on the western side of what was then called the Papago Reservation.

The casket containing the dead man lay before the altar in the tiny village chapel. The wall behind the altar held a number of holy pictures, many of San Francisco Xavier, Father Kino's personal patron. The sculptural figure shown in these pictures was probably brought into this country by Kino himself. I could tell at a glance that almost every object on or behind the altar had been acquired on the annual pilgrimage to Magdalena, Sonora.

Indians, Mexicans and others had been showing their respect for the dead man and his community by singing hymns and religious songs in Spanish, O'odham and English, while accompanying themselves on guitars and other instruments of European origin.

The wake would go on all night, with prayers, more songs, and rosaries. After we had sung our songs, we were led to the outdoor community dining room near the chapel, where attendees would be fed in shifts all night long. The meal consisted of beef with red chile, beef stew, beef tripe, pinto beans, home-made wheat bread, and flour and whole wheat tortillas. With the exception of the potato salad and canned fruit punch, all the foodstuffs had been introduced to the Sonoran Desert by Jesuit missionaries.

It is getting late when we finally pile into the car to head for home. As we drive along, one Mexican friend says: ''Jim, if Father Kino is watching right now, he's pretty happy."

"Why is that?" I ask.

"It's all still here. Everything he did, everything he brought."

And he's right.

Living Memories of Father Kino
Dr. James S. "Big Jim" Griffith
New Vision
March 2011
Dr. Griffith is a nationally recognized folklorist and art historian and is a NEA National Heritage Fellow.  . 

Julieta Gonzales

With ancestral roots in Magdalena and extended family scattered throughout Sonora short vacations were frequent during my childhood into the communities that grew up around Father Kino’s missions.

My love and respect for Father Kino’s work was established early and only grew as I matured.  During one trip to visit family in Tubutama at Christmas when I was 11 years old brought the joy of being let into the usually locked church by my second cousin Irene Ortiz.  She was a town leader and served several terms as mayor.  Later, in the 1980s she hosted bus loads of tourists on the Kino Mission tours who loved and appreciated the history of the region and of our faith.

But back in 1963, I recall running up the shaky wooden steps to the choir loft to come face to face with a small ancient organ that resembled a celeste more than a traditional church organ.  I played “Silent Night,” and other Christmas carols much to the delight of others who had seen the open church door and entered for a brief visit.

Most of our short visits were to the town of Magdalena.  My parents and I visited at Easter and during October for “Las Fiestas.”  We were present just before Father Kino’s remains were found.  It was exciting to watch the progress every time we visited.  Mention of “Las Fiestas” in our household meant one thing only—the Fiestas of San Francisco in Magdalena, Sonora held during the first week in October.

There were many experiences related to the October fiestas in honor St. Francis of Assisi. I recall in the 1960s watching Tucson artist Ted DeGrazia painting in the plaza in front of the church.  My family talked about the mass family pilgrimage from Tucson to Magdalena my grandmother organized at the end of World War II to give thanks to St. Francisco Xavier for the miracle of having my father and uncles return after serving in various branches of the service.  My mother told stories of her great grandparents and grandparents who were farmers, and allowed buckboards full of  pilgrims from the San Xavier reservation in the 1920s to camp by the creek on their property.

Although the fiestas are held during the celebration of St. Francis of Assisi, pilgrims go to pay homage to St. Francis Xavier.  The story I heard as a child is that the statute of St. Francis Xavier had been on its way to San Xavier but the wagon broke down in Magdalena.  Faithful residents of San Xavier and the Tucson area then determined that if the “santo couldn’t come to them, they would go to the santo” and the tradition began and continues today.

Julieta Gonzales
New Vision
September 2012

Ms Gonzalez is a retired journalist and member of the Kino Heritage Society. 

Kino - A Man of Compassion and Courage
Dr. Paul Duckro, Ph.D

Father Eusebio Kino was a man who embodied both great compassion for the native peoples he served and great courage in encountering them.

These two qualities stand out for me as a psychologist because it is these two qualities that make him a model for developing relationships across cultures.
There are three key elements of his ability to form relationships with peoples quite different from him.

First, he exhibited openness; he encountered native peoples as human beings with a unique and rich perspective on life and love, but with motivations that are common to human beings of every type. Father Kino saw all persons, no matter how different they seemed, as children of God the Creator. In return, they loved him; he was a man trusted by the native peoples he served like few other Europeans.

Second, he manifested willingness to share his own beliefs, which he held very deeply and firmly. He did not hold back out of concern that differences in beliefs would cause tension with his new friends. Father Kino lived as an authentic witness of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Third, he was ever ready to converse in the interest of coming to mutual understanding. His was a model of conversation; in sharing differences, Father Kino tried to understand from the perspective of the other. He put his trust not in eloquence of force, but in the powerful work of the Holy Spirit to bring fruit from his work.

So unique was his approach that he was thought lax by some, not sufficiently demanding in his teaching. So powerful were the effects that time after time he was found innocent of that accusation.

Father Kino’s approach to the native peoples embodied what we now call acculturation: the change that occurs in both parties when different cultures meet. His example has much to teach us today as we reach out across borders, cultures, religious beliefs and even across the inevitable obstacles that block family relationships.

Kino - A Man of Compassion and Courage
Dr. Paul Duckro, Ph.D
New Vision
November 2012 

Dr. Duckro is a clinical psychologist and researcher.

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