St. Didacus Has a Mission

Recently I had the opportunity to chaperone my son and his 4th grade class from St. Didacus School to the Mission San Luis Rey. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I haven’t been to a mission in many years. My expectations were absolutely exceeded! The beautiful grounds, superb guided tour and wondrous historical warmth were a sheer delight! I have since been bragging to my peers and family about how glorious the mission grounds are and encouraging them to visit. Such a beautiful place and right in our back yard!
As you drive up the winding road towards the mission you see the exquisite grounds. The stark white walls of the mission almost blind you but in a very soft way. The grass is manicured and waiting for its next drink of water. Before our actual tour, the children hustled in to the expansive cemetery to see a beautiful layout of tombstones and plaques. The children were enthralled with reading each tombstone. Again, the garden was perfectly manicured and I thought to myself that the gardening crew must really take pride. We waited for all the students to gather in the huge lawn area, where beautiful trees grow and squirrels frolic looking for leftover morsels from the last picnic. There was plenty of space for the 4th graders to run around and get ready to concentrate on learning via our tour.
The tour was ready to begin when a lively and jolly man announced his presence. The children immediately drew to attention and began to soak up the interesting facts about San Luis Rey. Our tour guide had all 4th grade eyes on him. He captivated every single one of them with his whimsical stories and tricky questions. Of course, the students already had learned so much in Ms. Paul’s class, and they were awarded with “very clever” status by our guide. Our guide then started our walking tour where he still had the attention of these little ones. Every fact he announced made the children crave more information. The tour was so very interesting and gave us so much historical information.
We learned that day that the mission originally had eight bells but now only has four, and in fact none of them even ring anymore. Interestingly, the bell is electrical! Who knew? The mission is abundant with history and I found myself daydreaming of how life was back when the Indians and friars were occupying the mission. There was a lavanderia, or “laundry,” where mission residents bathed and washed their clothes. It was a wonderful day of beauty, history and entertainment! The best part (for the children, I think) was the little gift shop where they could buy a little history to take home.
I am thankful that I had the opportunity to visit the mission with my son and his class from St. Didacus School. In many ways, I felt as though I too was in 4th grade again.
Christine Dean, Principal