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The Mission Play, John Steven McGroarty's contribution to California culture, tells the idealized story of Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest responsible for the founding of eight of the twenty-one coastal Catholic missions in Alta Calfironia, between 1769 and 1782. First performed on August 29, 1912, McGroarty's play ran for more than 20 years and was viewed by more than two and a half million people. McGroarty Arts Center. San Fernando Valley History Digital Library.