El Camino de San Antonio Missions announces Pope Francis Center as well as Margie and Bill Klesse Garden, blessing offered before construction begins near Mission Concepción

The Archdiocese of San Antonio has begun preparations for the latest projects of its On the Way – ¡Ándale! capital campaign; the Pope Francis Center and the Margie and Bill Klesse Garden, which are adjacent to Mission Concepción. The ground was blessed near the construction site by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, in a small ceremony December 1 before construction begins. Father David Garcia, former director of the Old Spanish Missions, gave a short history of the St. John’s Seminary and the two structures behind Mission Concepción and spoke to about 20 assembled guests of the importance of the Pope Francis Center to Mission Concepción.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, with Margie and Bill Klesse at the December 1 blessing before construction of the Margie and Bill Klesse Garden near Mission Concepción. Photo: Veronica Markland for Today’s Catholic Newspaper

The facility will not only serve as a conference center, but will also house the parish offices for the mission. Hon. Rebecca Simmons, director of the El Camino de San Antonio Missions and the Old Spanish Missions, presented an overview of the pilgrimage project, which includes the Padre Margil Pilgrimage Center and the Pope Francis Center. An increasing number of people are yearning for spiritual connection, leading to a desire to visit sacred spaces and take pilgrimages. The archdiocese recognized this need and thus created El Camino de San Antonio Missions to help facilitate pilgrimages. In his remarks, Archbishop Gustavo expressed his gratitude to Margie and Bill Klesse, whose contribution made the Pope Francis Center a reality. “The Pope Francis Center is a place where pilgrims and the community can meet and grow in faith and fellowship,” said the archbishop. “And the Margie and Bill Klesse Garden will be a beautiful example of God’s creation and a place of respite and prayer for pilgrims.”

The Pope Francis Center and the Margie and Bill Klesse Garden will be adjacent to the Padre Margil Pilgrimage Center, currently under construction. The archdiocese launched the On the Way -¡Ándale! capital campaign in the fall of 2017, with the effort reaching its $60 million goal earlier this year. Many additional projects assisted by the campaign are also moving forward. Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette told attendees at the gathering that the Padre Margil Center, the Pope Francis Center, and the Margie and Bill Klesse Garden are all the result of prayers and contributions from generous donors.

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