In 1768 he assumed the presidency
of the former Jesuit missions on the Baja California peninsula. The
next year he joined the Sacred Expedition to extend the mission system
northward into Alta California. Between 1769 and 1784, Serra founded
the following nine missions: San Diego (1769), San Carlos Borromeo (1770),
San Antonio (1771), San Gabriel (1771), San Luis Obispo (1772), San
Francisco (1776), San Juan Capistrano (1776), Santa Clara (1777), and
San Buenaventura (1782). He served as father-president of the system
from its headquarters at Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, and
it was there that he died at the age of seventy on August 28, 1784.
Serra was small in stature,
just five feet two inches in height, but was a giant in determination.
His friend and colleague Francisco Palóu paid Serra this tribute in
1787: "His memory shall not fail, because the works he performed when
alive shall be impressed in the minds of the dwellers of this New California;
despite the ravages of time, they shall not be forgotten."
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