San Antonio's first Mass Mariachis
By Carol Baass Sowa
Josephine and Jesse Orta with Archbishop Patrick F. Flores (center) were responsible for the first mariachi Mass in San Antonio in 1969. They are pictured here with Mariachi y Coro de San Patricio at St. Patrick Church. The Ortas’ first mariachi Mass took place at Our Lady of Peace Chapel, a mission church of St. Patrick Parish, not long after this new liturgy’s origin in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 1966. They went on to do mariachi Masses at St. Patrick, Immaculate Conception and Mission San José parishes, continuing to perform at the Sunday noon Mass at the latter. The Second Vatican Council had given the green light to Masses in the vernacular and incorporating area culture, leading Sister Frances Jean Terrazas, MCDP, of St. Patrick, to travel to Mexico in the mid-60s to do cultural study. She had been teaching guitar and assisting the Ortas with the Mexican Choir at St. Patrick and shared a recording of the Cuernavaca Mariachi mass with them on her return, hoping they could initiate one in the parish. Archbishop Flores, a former musician himself, was a big supporter of the Ortas and their Mariachi mass and assisted them with getting mariachi outfits made. As a priest in Houston, he had introduced the first Mariachi mass there around the same time Sister Frances Jean brought it here from Cuernavaca.