New parish of St. José Sanchez del Rio Catholic Church established by archbishop
March 25, 2021 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper
New parish of St. José Sanchez del Rio Catholic Church established by archbishop; Father Larry Christian named as founding pastor
The new parish of St. José Sánchez del Rio was formally established on the feast day of its namesake -- February 10 – and will be located in a fast-growing area of San Antonio, just off Blanco Road outside of Loop 1604.
Father Larry Christian, currently the archdiocesan episcopal vicar as well as the pastor of St. Ann Church near downtown San Antonio, was named the founding pastor of the new parish, and he will begin full-time ministry at the church on July 1. However, the parish will begin offering Sunday Masses on March 7 with a 9 a.m. Mass in English and an 11 a.m. Mass in Spanish. In July a full schedule of weekday and weekend liturgies will be celebrated. A parish staff will be assembled in the coming weeks.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, proclaimed the new parish in a small ceremony in the gymnasium of the former St. José Sánchez del Rio Catholic School. The former school facility at 21140 Gathering Oak will house the parish offices and classrooms and serve as the location for the celebration of Masses until a new sanctuary is built.
Architect Michael Legg was present to share information on some of the architectural drawings on display about the look of the campus and the new church building, with the site serving as a sanctuary in a heavily suburban area, featuring many mature trees and lush greenery.
St. José Sánchez del Rio Parish is receiving funds from the “On the Way – Andale!” capital campaign, which was launched by the archdiocese in 2017, with the effort reaching its $60 million goal in 2020 thanks to more than 20,000 generous donors. Many additional projects assisted by the campaign are also moving forward.
Present at the February 10 gathering were capital campaign general chairs Tom and Maryanne Guido and Mike and Ester Belz, as well as Julie Seguin, who served as director of the development campaign. Other special guests included Iliana Sandoval from the office of San Antonio City Councilman John Courage; Father Rodolfo Caballero, pastor of the neighboring parish of Holy Trinity just down Huebner Road; and Father Kevin Fausz, CM, president of the archdiocesan Prebyteral Council.
Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette gave the opening prayer, and Sister Jane Ann Slater, CDP, explained the definition of parish as referred to in Church law.
“In this case, St. José Sánchez Del Rio Parish encompasses a particular territory in which the People of God live and practice their faith,” said Sister Jane Ann. “Among the People of God in this place are the old and the young, lifelong Catholics, and those whose faith is new. English speaking and Spanish speaking, as well as from many different cultures and nations. This great mix of people is the face of the Church.”
Archbishop Gustavo told attendees that his selection of St. José Sanchez del Rio as the patron of this new parish is because his story fits our story today. St. José was only 14 at the time of his death, and he stood up for the free expression of his faith in a time of great terror and pain in Mexico, less than 100 years ago.
“While we have freedom of religion embedded in our Constitution, can anyone doubt that the voice of religion is marginalized to the very edge of society today? Or that those who could silence the faith would, if given the opportunity?” the archbishop asked. He replied, “We need to stand in solidarity with a saint who will die for faith and freedom!”
The San Antonio prelate stressed that St. Jose had not only the courage of his convictions, but also the energy and hope of young people. “Our faith may be 2,000 years old, but it is a faith which, as the Preface of Pentecost says, ‘restores the joy of our youth!’”
Father Christian emphasized several important features in the saint’s life which he hopes that the faithful will incorporate into the life of this new community in Christ.
“St. Jose had a strong human formation from a solid family life. He grew quickly in knowledge of the faith and the virtues, with a sound education,” said the new pastor. “This parish will dedicate itself to human formation, to the flourishing of the human person in faith, virtue, culture, language, and the arts, being a place where people feel welcomed and where their gifts are appreciated.”
This parish will also be a place where the Catholic faith is celebrated and learned, Father Christian told listeners. “Through worship in the sacred liturgy, through our rich sacramental heritage, and through a spirit of evangelization, this church will be part of the local community and the world community as a kind of leaven, bringing life and the highest aspirations of the human heart to bear. It will be a community practicing with charity and justice what it preaches and celebrates.”
In addition, this parish will be a place of formation for the minds of young and old, together. “Through solid teaching, catechesis, and outreach, Catholics will embrace their great heritage through the formation of the minds in knowledge of what we believe, and why we believe it,” said the archdiocesan episcopal vicar. “Without this foundation, the society we have built will crumble, and our hope for a future of equality and dignity will be eroded.”
He affirmed that this parish will be a community that understands its responsibilities to put into practice the tenets of the faith through practical action, caring for the needy, consoling the wounded, and standing as a voice for the voiceless. “In our city and in our world our lives and futures are interwoven, like a lovely garment. The wellbeing of each person influences the wellbeing of all. Likewise, the sufferings of each impact the sufferings of all,” noted Father Christian. “We cannot live in splendid isolation from each other and our world! We must be engaged in the life of our city and community, making of the city of man into the city of God. Therefore, the virtues of justice and charity must be promoted from this place.”
He concluded by reiterating earlier comments that a parish is a community within a local Church -- in this case, the Archdiocese of San Antonio, and, in the universal Church throughout the world. “This parish will take its place in communion and solidarity with our local and universal Church!”
The last parish established in the archdiocese was in 2018. It was Mary, Mother of the Church Catholic Parish, located on the far west side of San Antonio just off Potranco Road.