Palma.—This year is an extremely important year for Majorca and California because 300 years ago, the Franciscan monk, explorer and coloniser of California where he was the founder of the missions of California was born in the Majorcan village of Petra.

Over recent years, a great deal of effort has been made to not only promote and celebrate his great work here in Majorca but also in California where this year, ties between Majorca and California are being strengthened to mark this milestone in history.

And, this week, the former United States Consular Agent to the Balearics, Tumy Bestard, was named by the government as the Balearic Commissioner for the Fray Juniper Serra Year 2013 celebrations.

Bestard has for decades been involved in restoring Juniper Serra's birthplace and developing the museum and since retiring, is dedicating nearly all of his time and energy into promoting the Majorcan monk who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in September 1988.

He is so highly thought of in California that he is known today as the “Apostle of California”.
His birthday is a public holiday in California, and grade school history texts detail his adventures and contributions to Californian history. A statue of his likeness stands in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

He is also the patron and inspiration for 15'000 Catholic laymen who call themselves Serra International.
Bestard's role now is to organise and coordinate a series of events to mark the 300th anniversary of Juniper Serra's birth with the local authorities.