Dozens of San Antonio hospitality workers, taxi and carriage drivers, and others involved in the city’s tourism industry received a special blessing by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller at a noon mass on Tuesday, for their work serving millions of incoming visitors and residents during the city’s approaching Fiesta celebrations.

“In a few days, downtown is going to be very different,” García-Siller said during his homily at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church. “Fiesta is an opportunity for many people to enjoy, but that enjoyment is thanks to so many people who help.”

The Archbishop then bestowed the “Blessing of the Hands” on all those in attendance, whose work is centered in the heart of the Fiesta celebrations downtown, by sprinkling holy water on their hands and leading them in a prayer to Saint Martha of Bethany, the patron saint of hospitality workers.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller speaks with a television station about the reason of the ceremony. Photo by Scott Ball.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller speaks with a television station about the reason of the ceremony. Photo by Scott Ball. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

“Help me to be conscious in each moment to recognize the needs of those around me,” the prayer stated. “Open my eyes for opportunities to express the love of Jesus to those I serve. Give me the courage to do what I can to bring happiness through my compassionate interaction and conversations with others. Inspire me to spread beauty, intentional gestures of kindness, and to create sacred space wherever life leads me.”

Aside from participating in the various cultural events and parades, the large influx of visitors also take to the surrounding restaurants and hotels, keeping their employees’ hands full during the 11-day celebration. While the extra business is largely appreciated, the increased flurry of activity that Fiesta brings can complicate the work of the city’s hospitality employees.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller blesses the hands of a congregation. Photo by Scott Ball.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller blesses the hands of a congregation. Photo by Scott Ball.

“We’re going to have such a heavy two weeks, so it’s an honor to be blessed today,” said Mayra Hinojosa, one of the general managers at La Margarita, a restaurant in Market Square. Receiving the blessing is a testament to all of the hard work those in the hospitality business undertake, she said, and will serve as a reminder to maintain patience everyday.

“Even during those difficult moments when you’re like, ‘Ah, it’s three in the morning and we still have a wait,’ it humbles you (because) people come from all over to see our restaurant and our Fiesta, so it’s nice to get them to see what we have to offer here in San Antonio.”

Members of the Catholic clergy led by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller exit Saint Mary's Catholic Church. Photo by Scott Ball.
Members of the Catholic clergy led by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller exit Saint Mary’s Catholic Church. Photo by Scott Ball.

After mass, the attendees joined García-Siller on the front steps of the church for a special mariachi performance and a brief pre-Fiesta celebration, complete with cascarónes.

“The symbolism behind (the blessing) is that our hands remind us of work,” he said after the ceremony. “We use our hands to do something for others … and we hope that the visitors and all the people that come to our city will be touched by the service of our hotels, restaurants, those on the streets, whatever the case may be.”

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Top image: Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller along with members of the hospitality community throw confetti into the air after crushing cascarones. Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Camille Garcia

Camille Garcia is a journalist born and raised in San Antonio. She formerly worked at the San Antonio Report as assistant editor and reporter. Her email is camillenicgarcia@gmail.com