Church continues mission and ministry after three centuries in San Antonio

The archdiocese celebrated the solemnity of St. Anthony de Padua, patron saint of San Antonio, on June 13 as an official Tricentennial event that featured a liturgy at San Fernando Cathedral followed by a river procession with the Blessed Sacrament through heart of downtown, as thousands of volunteers – and even tourists — lined the Riverwalk holding commemorative candles and joined in song and prayer as three barges cruised by.

In the 13th century St. Anthony of Padua was a Franciscan missionary who proclaimed the gospel in an understandable but very inspired way.

On St. Anthony’s feast day in 1691, Father Damien Massanet and a small group of explorers came to South Texas and named the area in honor of San Antonio de Padua. Father Massanet celebrated the first Mass on the banks of the river, a site visited during the river procession that evening. The Catholic faith arrived and thrived in what is now San Antonio.

In 1718, 300 years ago, a contingent of military and religious figures from New Spain established a presidio and a mission named San Antonio de Valero, now called the Alamo. In his missionary work at that time, Venerable Father Antonio Margil de Jesús, the apostle of Texas, established a foundation that would eventually become the city of San Antonio.

“The Catholic faith has deep roots here,” said Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, in his homily at the liturgy. “From the initial missions and settlement by people of diverse backgrounds the city of San Antonio has grown, built and sustained by the faith of those who came before us.”

The archbishop told attendees who filled San Fernando to capacity that they are called and challenged to proclaim the good news of God’s enduring love for everyone — not only by words but especially by actions. He recited St. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend…and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Homily – June 13, 2018, 300th Anniversary of San Antonio, Patronal Feast of St. Anthony of Padua

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