Father Junipero Serra was a man of curious contradictions, in the view of biographer Greg Orfala , a Spanish priest who saw, and served the Crown by shaping the indigenous culture into the missions that dot California, and even found merit in Native American spirituality.
Though most Californians who recognize the name of Father Serra hold a rosily favorable impression of the priest, there are some who see him as a exemplar of Spanish imperialism in the New World. Serra biographer Gregory Orfalea says neither extreme is an accurate perception of the real man.
As he remained geographically distant from both Rome and Spain, Serra’s personal theology grew more complex and less doctrinaire, in Orfalea’s analysis. As an example, he points to the priest’s deep affection for art.