Caturday Special: Biography of Sula, Parish Cat and MSI Press Author


photo by Studio Lovejoy

In honor of Caturdy, we share the bio of MSI Press author and Old Mission San Juan Bautista parish car, Sula -- excerpted from her book, Tale of a Mission Cat:

About Me and My Predecessors

Did you know that every one of the Spanish Missions in California used to have a Mission cat? Some still do. I am one of them.

My name is Sula, and I am the Mission cat at Old Mission San Juan Bautista. If you come to the Mission, you can meet me. It seems that quite not of my own doing, I have nonetheless become rather famous of late. Rather than chasing mice (really, there are no mice at the Mission these days, just people, whom I love to comfort; that is, after all, my mission), I try to raise money to save the Mission, which desperately needs to be retrofitted against earthquakes—and to have the roof repaired so that my home, the Mission, does not leak in the rain. How I do that is by giving interviews, writing books, and putting my pawtograph on my books, including at special event book signings. I like my vocation: helping people at the Mission. I also like my avocation: writing books about the Mission and my life among the parishioners of Old Mission San Juan Bautista.

No one knows where I came from and how I ended up at the Mission, not even I. We all do know, though, that I belong to a special breed of cat that came from very far away. Look at my markings: a white body with greyish-black “cap” and greyish-black tail. That is typical of a Van cat. Van cats come from the area around Van Lake in the faraway country of Turkey. We Van cats can have different coloring: red caps and tails, orange caps and tails, grey caps and tails, and black caps and tails, just like people have different eye color, hair color, and skin color. Except for the coloring, we Van cats look very much alike. We are considered the oldest domestic cat! (Some animal experts say that we are the most social and gentle cats. Maybe that is why God chose me for this mission.)

As for my own history, I have very little memory, so I have to rely on the memory of my friend, Mary Anzar, who works at Old Mission Museum Gift Shop and remembers when I was still a kitten (well, at least, very young). She says that one day about ten years ago, when I was too little to know what I was doing or even to remember much about it, I showed up at Old Mission San Juan Bautista and was scooped up by the employees of the Mission Museum Gift Shop, who have taken care of me ever since. Right after that, I came to know the parishioners at Old Mission San Juan Bautista, and they came to know me. It was love at first sight on their part, and it was “mission found” (both meanings of that word) for me. I knew I was there to help the parishioners.

There I met St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. The parishioners erected a statue to him in the rose garden in the courtyard of the church. Every morning I consult with St. Francis, who gives me my specific mission for the day.

My creator put me at this Mission, I am sure, so that I can helpful to the people of the parish—and so that they could help me in my moments of need. (I had two bouts of cancer, and the parishioners really helped me get through those bad times, but that story is told in another book, Surviving Cancer, Healing People: One Cat’s Story.)

The Franciscans, the Roman Catholic order that founded all the Missions in California, are heirs to St Francis’s love for God’s creatures. They realized the importance of cats like me when they had cat entrances built into each of the church doors. So, there were many cats before me. Like me, they each had their own mission. In the early days, that mission was to protect the grain and food stores at the Missions from mice and other rodents. Now, though, there is no food stored at the Missions, and the cats, like me, who live there are now God’s fur angels, giving His comfort and peace in a humble and meaningful way to those who need Him. So, that’s my profession and my life work.

I wrote this book to share with you my very special Mission—maybe you can help me save it—and the hours of my life so that you can understand what a terrific job it is to be a Mission cat. Whether you are a kid or a former kid, I hope that this book will make my Mission, its construction and activities, and particularly its spiritual connectedness as special to you as it is to me and to the parishioners who take care of me.

For more posts about Sula, the enthrallment of the public with her, and her m any books, click HERE.


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