Setting out from the southern port of San Diego with Lieutenant José Ortega and soldiers, Lasuén journeyed to the spot where the mission was to be founded.
Fray Junipero Serra, a 55 year old former college professor who had proven himself at the Sierra Gorda missions, was chosen as Presidente of the missions, and appointed Superior of the 15 Franciscan friars.On April 1, 1768, Serra and the Franciscans disembarked at Loreto.
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In a span of just over half a century the New World representatives of the Spanish King planted a chain of twenty missions on the California coast, and the Mexicans added one more before the end of the mission era.
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Undeniably the post at San Diego was the worst that could be offered any missionary, and Serra gave it to Lasuén precisely because he considered him the best missionary he could place there.
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Lasuén was unaware of the friction between Rivera and President Serra, but on becoming acquainted with the true status of affairs, Lasuén made a complete volte-face in favor of Serra and against Rivera.
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I am already old and all my hair is gray, and though my years have brought this about, the heavy burden of my office, particularly my five years as missionary at San Diego, has accelerated this condition greatly." When Lasuén wrote those words in 1782, he was only forty-six years old.
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When Rivera threatened to resign if Lasuén did not become his chaplain, the latter obtained permission to go to Monterey, not disclosing the true reason for his decision.
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Even after the uprising of 1775, affairs at San Diego remained unsettled, and his life was in danger for a great period of the time, owing to the nature of the local Indians.
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Lasuén served at San Diego until he received notification of his elevation to the presidency of the missions, October 11, 1785, succeeding Junípero Serra.