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San Antonio Says Goodbye To Former Archbishop

Hundreds gathered in and around San Antonio’s San Fernando Cathedral Tuesday to mourn and honor former Archbishop Patricio “Patrick” Fernandez Flores. 
Hundreds gathered in and around San Antonio’s San Fernando Cathedral Tuesday to mourn and honor former Archbishop Patricio “Patrick” Fernandez Flores.

Flores served as Archbishop in the San Antonio Archdiocese from 1979 to 2004. Current Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller delivered the homily at Flores’ funeral mass.

“We come from different walks of life, but are gathered to celebrate and honor the life and legacy of the late Archbishop Patricio Fernandez Flores,” said Garcia-Siller.  “And to pray and thanksgiving for this noble and humble ‘Mariachi Archbishop’”

Flores earned that nickname for his love for music and pride for Mexican culture. Flores began life as a migrant farm worker, and became the first Mexican-American Catholic bishop in the United States in 1970.

“He was very sympathetic with migrants and immigrants, welcoming them truly as sisters and brothers in the Lord,” Garcia-Siller told funeral goers. “He is now a beacon of light in a world of darkness, torn by division, hatred, racism and exclusion.”

Mariachis performed a rendition of “Pescadores de Hombres” during the mass. After the service, the band joined the procession of white-robed priests placing Flores’ casket in a hearse bound for San Fernando Cemetery II.

Some in the crowd sang along. Margie Gonzales teared up as she watched.

Gonzales knew Flores in 2000, when he was held hostage by a Salvadoran immigrant fearing deportation. She says Flores showed compassion even to his captor.

“It was a traumatic experience for everybody that worked with him, but he came through and he handled it very, very well, because he’s a very loving priest, and we all loved him very much,” Gonzales said.

On Monday, several thousand people attended a vigil for Catholic leader. On Tuesday, Flores was buried at San Fernando Cemetery II.

Flores died last week of congestive heart failure and pneumonia, according to the Archdiocese. He was 87 years old.