San Antonio, Texas and the Catholic Church

The San Antonio Missions

San Antonio, Texas – An Important City in the Catholic Church

The city of San Antonio, Texas, named after the great St. Anthony of Padua, has traditionally had a large role to play in the Catholic church. Centrally located in south-central Texas and close to various independent sources of water, San Antonio has a long history of being a headquarters or focal point for Catholicism and the Church’s missionary work in Texas. May it regain this old status again someday! If Texas is ever to be converted to the Catholic Faith more completely, the layout of the missions will need to take a similar form – with San Antonio at the center. After all, San Antonio is quite centrally located. No wonder the Catholic Church chose this city for the focal point of Texas evangelization. You have Austin 1 hour to the north; Houston 3 1/2 hours to the east, Dallas 4 hours to the north, and many small and mid-size towns that can reach San Antonio within a 2 hour drive or less. Now that is a city ideally situated for Catholic Church missionary work. The Catholic Faith is never easy, but Our Lord’s yoke is light and sweet compared to any other yoke. Why resist Him who wants to give you eternal life? But resistance is natural for fallen human nature, which wants to be independent of God, hates any kind of self-denial, and is enticed to follow the Broad Path of Destruction by the world, the flesh, and the devil.

The San Antonio Missions

The Old Spanish Missions of San Antonio, Texas are a chain of five colonial era compounds located in a southern line from the center of downtown San Antonio to the southern edge of the city. Each of the old compounds has a church, and is independent of the others. The Missions were built in San Antonio in the 18th Century as an extraordinary outpost of the Spanish Government and the Catholic Church.

The Franciscan Fathers of that era founded each mission to evangelize the local indian population, minister to their needs both material and spiritual, as well as bring them up to speed in the ways of Spanish civilization. There was some resistance to the Spaniards, but the Catholic priests were the best ambassadors. An additional goal was to make them active citizens of the Spanish province of Tejas. And to offer protection in a very dangerous age, military forces were often located in the vicinity of each Mission. The San Antonio Spanish Missions formed part of a independent colonization system that stretched across the Spanish Southwest in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Four of the five original missions (Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan and Espada) still function as active Catholic parish churches, albeit offering only the Novus Ordo Mass. (Which is unfortunate, as the priests who offered Mass in the Missions over the past few centuries wouldn’t recognize the Mass said there today. They would innocently mistake it for Luther’s service, or something similar. Meanwhile, the old pre-Vatican 2 or 1962 Mass said at many traditional chapels today is almost identical with the Tridentine Mass as it was said when the Missions first opened. Resistance to unnecessary change is a good thing.)

The San Antonio Missions are managed by the Catholic Church today. Specifically, they are run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio as the Old Spanish Missions, Inc., an independent, non-profit organization which provides for their care and upkeep. Since they are still managed by the Catholic Church, the Archbishop of San Antonio, TX appoints the Director of the Old Spanish Missions. This Director is in turn responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the mission churches, as well as any restoration work that needs to be done. San Antonio de Valero, known as the Alamo, is owned by the State of Texas and up until recently was operated by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. It does not function as an active parish church and does not form part of the Old Spanish Missions, Inc. It operates independently of the other missions. So this most famous of the San Antonio Spanish Mission churches — this symbol of American resistance to anyone and anything who would take away our freedom — is nothing but a tourist attraction today.

At present, the National Park Service is in charge of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, in cooperation with the Church, or the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas. The two organizations divide the responsibilities of running the Spanish Missions in the following manner: the Park Service is responsible for all the material elements of the four properties, including the buildings, landscaping, visitor centers, etc. The Archdiocese of San Antonio, on the other hand, continues to care for the church buildings in each Mission. The two domains of responsibility are independent of one another.

San Antonio and St. Dominic’s Chapel – the yearly San Antonio Mission Pilgrimage

In 2015, about 20 parishioners from St. Dominic’s attended the yearly San Antonio Mission Pilgrimage organized every year by a group of Traditional Catholics. Everyone was glad they came (some from as far away as Austin, Dallas, Columbus, and Bandera), and got a good look at our Catholic history in this area. Quite a large group of devout Catholics took form! Many traditional hymns were sung, many sacrifices were offered up, and many Rosaries were prayed and sung. San Antonio, ora pro nobis! Santo Domingo, ora pro nobis!

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