I doubt whether many people of to-day, even though they be of the Catholic Church, can realize what obedience to that order meant to these devoted priests. Naturally they must obey it—monstrous though it was—but the one thought that tore their hearts with anguish was: Who would care for their Indian charges?
For these ignorant and benighted savages they had left their homes and given up all that life ordinarily means and offers. Were they to be allowed to drift back into their dark heathendom?
No! In spite of his cruelty to the Jesuits, the king had provided that the Indians should not be neglected. He had appointed one in whom he had especial confidence, Don Jose Galvez, as his Visitador General, and had conferred upon him almost plenary authority. To his hands was committed the carrying out of the order of banishment, the providing of members of some other Catholic Order to care for the Indians of the Missions, and later, to undertake the work of extending the chain of Missions northward into Alta California, as far north as the Bay of Monterey, and even beyond.
To aid him in his work Galvez appealed to the Superior of the Franciscan Convent in the City of Mexico, and Padre Junipero Serra, by common consent of the officers and his fellows, was denominated as the man of all men for the important office of Padre Presidente of the Jesuit Missions that were to be placed henceforth under the care of the Franciscans.
This plan, however, was changed within a few months. It was decided to call upon the priests of the Dominican Order to take charge of the Jesuit Missions, while the Franciscans put all their strength and energy into the founding of the new Missions in Alta California.
Thus it came to pass that the Franciscans took charge of the founding of the California Missions, and that Junipero Serra became the first real pioneer of what is now so proudly denominated “The Golden State.”
The orders that Galvez had received were clear and positive:
“Occupy and fortify San Diego and Monterey for God and the King of Spain.” He was a devout son of the Church, full of enthusiasm, having good sense, great executive ability, considerable foresight, untiring energy, and decided contempt for all routine formalities. He began his work with a truly Western vigor. Being invested with almost absolute power, there were none above him to interpose vexatious formalities to hinder the immediate execution of his plans.