Shared from the 1/14/2018 Faith eEdition


Tricentennial is time to remember sacred purpose


Father David Garcia

The new year — our Tricentennial year — has begun. There are many events to look forward to with anticipation, including grand occasions like our recent Celebrate 300, when we officially rang in this momentous year.

Amid all the revelry, it could be easy to lose sight of how our city began. May 1, 1718, is the day when a church, the Mission San Antonio de Valero, was founded. The presidio followed four days later.

From this beginning, our city was established for a sacred purpose, namely to spread the gospel, or Good News of God’s love. As we embark on a celebration of San Antonio’s first 300 years, we need to ask ourselves: How are we fulfilling this sacred purpose?

One answer to that question can be found in the many volunteers from local faith-based organizations, churches and nonprofits that are participating in various events, including many service projects, throughout 2018. To date, Tricentennial has a database of 11,000 selfless individuals who are willing to give of their time and their talents to honor San Antonio’s legacy.

The community service projects that will be a part of this initiative represent the passion our citizens have for each other, and for making San Antonio a better place.

That passion is part of our heritage. Indeed, even before the mission or the presidio there was the name — San Antonio. St. Anthony. It was on his feast day, June 13, back in 1691, when the life-giving waters that would serve as the foundation of the city were first encountered by a Spanish expedition.

Born to a wealthy family, Anthony gave up a future of wealth and power to join the Franciscans, who were the founders of our missions. His was a life devoted to God and to ministering to the less fortunate. Is it any wonder that one of the qualities that marks our city is the passion we have for helping others?

Anthony is also the patron of those who have lost things of value and want to find them again. Maybe it is a good time to challenge ourselves to dig deep and find an even greater spirit of community and service, like that which marked our beginning.

We will find reminders of our sacred purpose throughout the coming year. On June 13, for example, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller will celebrate St. Anthony’s feast day with a riverboat procession to one of the most iconic sites on the River Walk.

Many know this spot between Presa and Navarro streets as Marriage Island. But more than its status as a place for weddings is its religious history. It was at this spot or nearby, on June 13, 1691, that Spanish Missionary Father Damian Massanet celebrated the first Catholic Mass.

Commemorative Week, beginning May 1, will be a six-day celebration of the joy and pride of San Antonio. Fittingly, a Day of Reflection will lead the commemoration — a day of prayer and interfaith services that will bring together people of all faiths on Main Plaza to celebrate the founding of our beloved city.

This union of many faiths is a demonstration of the friendly and collaborative relations that people of different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs enjoy here. Ours is a diverse community where people of all creeds worked together to peacefully end segregation, help start the effort to build a comprehensive homeless program and continue the work to serve the hungry and those in need.

The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Now is the time to celebrate San Antonio’s first 300 years — a time to share joy and renew friendships at the many festivities that will mark our Tricentennial year.

But this is also a time to be still and reflect on the mission of the saint for which our city is named and on the sacred purpose that must continue to inspire the people of San Antonio.

Father David Garcia is a co-chair of the San Antonio Tricentennial Commission.

See this article in the e-Edition Here
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