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​Archbishop Gustavo and Commemorative Air Force bless San Antonio from the sky May 11

May 27, 2020 | posted by Archdiocese of San Antonio

Topics: Archbishop, In the Press, Breaking News


Archbishop Gustavo and Commemorative Air Force bless San Antonio from the sky May 11

The mission of the Tex Hill Wing of the Commemorative Air Force is to educate, inspire, honor, and preserve, and during this difficult time the organization teamed up with the archdiocese to inspire unity and healing with an operation called, “Mission: Hope.”

On May 11, the 1942 SNJ “Ole’ Yeller” took off from historic Stinson Field and soared over the San Antonio area with Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS. Archbishop Gustavo blessed the people of the community during this flight, before which he announced the re-opening date of parishes in the archdiocese for public weekend liturgies May 23-24 at a ceremony prior to takeoff held at Hangar 3, the headquarters for the Tex Hill Wing of the CAF. Masses at the archdiocese have been impacted since mid-March due to the COVID-19 crisis.

This event had 30 scheduled locations for a flyover at 1,000 feet with church bells ringing at many parishes, as Archbishop Gustavo prayed for the archdiocese during this pandemic.

“The aircraft is very visible, and I believe the sight of the archbishop flying overhead will be truly inspirational,” said Col. Darren Bond, executive officer of the Tex Hill Wing. “We have had so much bad news lately. It’s time to give people a positive sign.”

“The Commemorative Air Force and the Tex Hill Wing is an organization that serves our communities and is inclusive of all people,” added Nathan Gershon, Tex Hill Wing public information officer. “For this event, we are honored that the archbishop and the CAF can partner for something so beautiful.”

This two-hour flight also took place prior to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flyover of San Antonio to honor health care professionals, first responders, military, and essential personnel.

Locations of flyovers included Mission Espada, Mission San Juan Capistrano, UIW School of Medicine, St. PJ’s Children’s Home, Mission Concepción, St. Cecilia’s Church, Holy Redeemer Church, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital, San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio City Hall, Bexar County Adult Detention Center, Sacred Heart Church, St. Timothy Church, Our Lady of the Lake University, the archdiocesan Pastoral Center, Assumption Seminary, Mexican American Catholic College, St. Mary’s University, Kelly Field, Lackland Air Force Base, Divine Providence Church, St. Rose of Lima Church, Oblate School of Theology, St. Francis Nursing Home, Padua Place Retired Priest Residence, University of the Incarnate Word, St. Pius X Church, Catholic Life Insurance headquarters building, Shrine of St. Padre Pio Church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, St. Peter & Paul Church, and St. Monica Church in Converse.

Due to last minute directives from air traffic control during the flight the flyover had to deviate from course near two sites and was unable to fly overhead in those instances for safety purposes.

The takeoff and landing events were livestreamed on archdiocesan social media and broadcast live on CTSA, Spectrum Channel 15.

“I want to express my gratitude to the Tex Hill Wing of the Commemorative Air Force for their extremely generous offer to me to fly aboard their marvelous SJN Texan airplane this afternoon to provide a blessing over the Archdiocese of San Antonio as we begin the initial steps to re-emerge from the coronavirus pandemic,” Archbishop Gustavo said prior to takeoff. He offered special thanks to Colonel Darren Bond of the group for his initial outreach to on this effort.

The Tex Hill Wing is active in many community service initiatives, and the archbishop said he was very impressed and thankful for the organization’s cadet program, which provides opportunities for youth from the surrounding neighborhoods, which face a variety of challenges.

“We are here at Stinson Field, an airport which holds a storied place in the history of ‘Military City USA,” and we are in close proximity also to our local treasures, the four Old Spanish Missions,” said Archbishop Gustavo. “It is also very fitting that this flight is taking place in the month dedicated to Mary, just a day after Mother’s Day celebrations.”

It was then time for the Missionary of the Holy Spirit to announce some long awaited good news at this time. “Now, it is with great joy that I am able to restore the sacramental life of our local Church,” he exclaimed, which emphasizing, “I do so aware of the care that this requires and of the ongoing danger of COVID-19 infection.”

The archbishop explained that he had studied the situation of the 19 counties of the archdiocese in collaboration with experts and the archdiocesan COVID-19 Task Force, and with the approval of the Presbyteral Council, he emotionally decreed that public Sunday liturgy will resume beginning the weekend of the Feast of The Ascension of the Lord, May 23-24.

He further decreed that parishes may once again celebrate public daily Mass beginning May 19, as long as they are able to follow directives and regulations.

“As conditions change, and with each new phase of reopening the state of Texas as ordered by civil officials, I will issue additional directives, if necessary, considering the recommendations of health authorities and civil regulations,” cautioned the archbishop.

Archbishop Gustavo concluded with a call to reflection, “Let us give thanks to God, and pray for his continued blessings. Thank you all. Let’s go.” He then climbed aboard the aircraft to applause.