Archbishop Emeritus Patricio “Patrick” Fernandez Flores, San Antonio’s fourth archbishop and the first Mexican-American bishop in the United States, died Monday, according to a statement released by the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
Flores, who was one of nine children of illiterate migrant workers, served as archbishop in San Antonio for more than 25 years, from 1979 to 2004. He was briefly hospitalized at Baptist Medical Center for pneumonia and congestive heart failure this week and died at his residence, Padua Place, a home for retired priests in need of medical assistance on the city’s near-Northside.
Visitation for Flores at San Fernando Cathedral will begin Monday afternoon, with a vigil service at 7 p.m. A funeral mass is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, according to the archdiocese.
During his tenure, Flores held a number of leadership roles in the church and in the greater community. He served as a pastor in Houston, as director of the Christian Family Movement, and as director of the Bishop’s Committee for the Spanish-Speaking, which encourages bilingual congregations.
Flores co-founded PADRES – Padres Asociados para Derechos Religiosos, Educativos, y Sociales or Priests Associated for Religious, Education, and Social Rights – a group that worked to called attention to the issues affecting the Hispanic community in the church and in society. He also was a member of the Immigration and Refugee Department of the United States Catholic Conference, chairman of the Church in Latin America Committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and chairman of the Texas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
“As the first Mexican-American bishop in the United States, Archbishop Flores was not only a spiritual leader for our city, but a revered symbol of faith for all Latinos,” Councilman Cris Medina (D7) stated in an email Monday. “He truly exemplified his personal motto, ‘Laborabo non mihi sed omnibus,’ which means, ‘I will work not for myself but for others.’”