Miracle at the Mission

Miracle at the Mission

After recovering from their daring exploits in the exciting first book, The Ghosts of Westthorpe Academy, high school best friends Joe Pryce and Pete Figueroa return for another thrilling, action-adventure in Miracle at the Mission.

When one of them wins a St. Junipero Serra essay writing contest and is rewarded with a summer trip to California, they both embark on an adventure they will never forget. While visiting one of the historic Spanish missions founded by Father Serra, the boys meet a holy but mysterious old Franciscan monk who warns them of the dangers they would soon encounter.

It isn’t long before the boys are drawn into a series of events filled with suspense, intrigue, a high-speed car chase along the precipitous Pacific Coast Highway, and the schemes of foreign operatives seeking to bring harm to the President of the United States.

Caught up in the pursuit of the bad guys, the boys discover they have become suspects in the investigation by the FBI. Desperate to prove their innocence, they must rely on the guidance and wisdom of the old padre, who just happens to bear a strange resemblance to St. Junipero Serra himself.

With the world teetering on the brink of an international crisis, the story reaches its climax at another mission––Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel––where the boys and a large gathering of people witness an incredible miracle that changes their lives forever.

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Author Joe Lewis

Joseph Lewis lives in Exton, Pennsylvania, with his wife Marian. They are blessed with six grown children and two granddaughters.

Aside from writing, Joseph teaches high school history at Regina Luminis Academy in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Villanova University, holds a masters in theology from the Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College, and has done doctoral work in theology at Catholic University.

His first book, The Ghosts of Westthorpe Academy,was published in 2018. Miracle at the Mission is the second book in the series entitled, The Westthorpe Academy Mysteries. Joseph is also an active member of the Catholic Writer’s Guild.


  1. Miracle at the Mission is your second book in a series called the Westthorpe Academy Mysteries. How did the idea for the series originate?

Miracle at the Mission is a sequel to my first book, The Ghosts of Westthorpe Academy. The idea for the series began while I was teaching at an all-boys Catholic prep high school in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. On the campus is a charming old mansion that was the original building of the school. Over the years, rumors abounded of how a ghost haunted the mansion and that a stash of old money was hidden somewhere within it.

After hearing of such stories over the years, I finally convinced myself that a story needed to be written. One summer, I put pen to paper and completed my first book, The Ghosts of Westthorpe Academy, published in 2018. I borrowed the name Westthorpe from the original name of the property that surrounds the school––Westthorpe Farm­­­.

  • Miracle at the Mission provides a completely different setting from the first book and brings the series to the Spanish missions of California. What was the inspiration behind doing this?

Not long after the first book came out, several people began asking when the next one would be coming out. I was throwing some ideas together when my wife and I traveled to California to visit my son who is in the Marine Corps. During the trip, we toured some of the missions founded by St. Junipero Serra where I was immediately struck by the beauty, the holiness, and the history of these extraordinary places. It wasn’t long before I began piecing together a story of how the same two friends from the first story, Joe and Pete, take a summer trip of their own to California where they visit Pete’s older brother Luke who is a Marine, and explore some of the missions themselves.

So, in borrowing from my own travel experience, I was able to formulate the basis of a story that would ultimately become Miracle at the Mission. The trip also gave me the opportunity to visualize many of the places I write about in the book which helps provide vivid descriptions and setting details that I hope will enhance the reader’s enjoyment of the story. 

  • Your interest in St. Junipero Serra goes beyond just a curious fascination. Explain how and why Father Serra plays such an important part in the story. 

Many may remember that Junipero Serra was canonized a saint of the Church here in the United States in September of 2015. The canonization took place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. and was overseen by Pope Francis himself who was visiting the United States at the time. Serra is the only saint to be canonized on American soil.

Unfortunately, not all the news surrounding this momentous event was positive. Many took the occasion to criticize Serra and to blame him for the abuses perpetrated upon Native Americans many years ago, particularly in California. Some people resorted to defacing or toppling his statues and doing damage to some of the missions.

As a history teacher, and having studied something about Father Serra’s life, I knew that much of the criticism directed towards him was inaccurate, misguided, and unfair. My book provides an opportunity to correct some of that and convey truths of who he really was––a man who worked tirelessly for social justice and truly loved the people he served. 

  • What do you anticipate the reader taking away from Miracle at the Mission?

Though the book is an exciting read, filled with mystery, adventure, intrigue and suspense, it is, above anything else, a story about faith, friendship, selflessness, and doing the right thing. It is a story that inspires hope that various peoples, cultures, and countries can join together in good will.

It is a reminder to us that although we live in a world filled with danger, uncertainty, and confusion, we can make a difference if we hold fast to those things that matter most: faith, hope, and love. And we needn’t look any further for help in this effort than the communion of saints who are there, interceding for us. And there is no finer example than the saintly Franciscan, Junipero Serra, who gave of himself totally in the service of his fellow man.

May his example inspire a more fervent faith and devotion, as well as a greater appreciation for the extraordinary work of the California missions and the Franciscan friars who founded them.

Fact About St. Junipero Serra:

Junipero Serra had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. When he arrived in Mexico to begin his missionary work, he stopped to pray at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on his way to the Franciscan convent in Mexico City. The image maintains a special place in all the missions of California.

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Author: Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, editor of "Today's Catholic Homeschooling", is the mother of two biological sons and one adopted daughter. She is in her fifteenth year of homeschooling. She has a B.A. in History and Fine Art and a Master's Degree in Applied Theology. She is the author of "The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling" and "The Fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary". She blogs at spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com