As we start 2016, here’s a look at a news item and several items that never seemed to make it into a column.

Natalie Grant

Singer Natalie Grant was in the area as part of the KLOVE Christmas tour. She was featured in the Dec. 4 Facets, where she mentioned that her family would spend the holiday with her parents in the Northwest.

The day after Christmas, Grant reported through social media that her daughter Gracie, one of her 8-year-old twins, was in the ER and then ICU with breathing problems.

Grant posted, “She’s still in the ICU with pneumonia, RSV and partial collapsed lung, and all of this sent her asthma into overdrive. She’s exhausted, I’m exhausted but we know that God is completely in control, and we have peace in the midst of chaos.”

On Wednesday, Grant posted better news. “Update on Gracie: our girl has made MIRACULOUS improvements overnight!!!”

Grant said that the family had specifically prayed that Gracie’s oxygen levels would improve. On Wednesday, she reported that the levels that had been at 85 percent with the help of oxygen had improved to 95 percent without help.

“Her lungs are continuing to open up — continue to pray as she fights the pneumonia & RSV. The color is back in her cheeks and she just ate a good breakfast. God is good. Thank you thank you thank you for your prayers. Hoping and praying we can say goodbye to the ICU today.”

Grant is posting updates on Facebook, and many websites, including, are posting stories with the updates.

500 years

2015 was the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila.

She was born March 28, 1515, and has been a saint since 1622. Her feast day is Oct. 15.

Teresa was a typical teen, so much so that her father sent her to a convent to keep her out of trouble.

She eventually came to love the convent, in part because it was less strict than her father.

The convent encouraged Teresa, a very charming person, to teach visitors her concept of mental prayer, a way to keep Jesus present as long as possible. However, she felt this led her to the sins of vanity and gossip.

She then fell ill and was paralyzed for several years. She never fully recovered her health. At age 41, a priest encouraged her to return to her prayer, which she found difficult but also found spiritual rewards in.

At 43, she founded a new convent based on a simple life of poverty and prayer. Later she expanded her movement to reform spiritual life.


American saint

In September, Pope Francis canonized Junipero Serra.

His sainthood is controversial to some, including Native Americans who say that Serra enslaved their ancestors.

However, Serra is basically responsible for the formation of California and for the spread of Christianity to American Indians in the area.

Serra, born in 1713, joined the Franciscans when he was 16. Known as a scholar, he volunteered to work in the Mexican missions at age 36.

In 1769, when he was 56, he was part of a group that arrived at San Diego. Shortly after that, Serra founded the first of 21 California missions along the 700-mile El Camino Real that were responsible for Native American conversions on the coast as far north as Sonoma. Many of these missions introduced agricultural and irrigation projects to the area.

Many of these missions grew into major cities: about 60 percent of California’s modern population lives around the El Camino Real.

Father Serra or his administration established:

JULY 16, 1769: San Diego de Alcala

JUNE 3, 1770: San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

JULY 14, 1771: San Antonio de Padua

SEPT. 8, 1771: San Gabriel Arcangel

SEPT. 1, 1772: San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

OCT. 8, 1776: San Francisco de Asis (also known as Mission Dolores)

NOV. 1, 1776: San Juan Capistrano

JAN. 12, 1777: Santa Clara de Asis

MARCH 31, 1782: San Buenaventura

The remaining 12 Franciscan missions were established by later leaders from 1786-1823.

In 1784, Serra died at the mission San Carlos in Monterey, California, at age 70. He is buried under the sanctuary floor.