Styles of
Patrick Flores
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style His Excellency
Religious style Monsignor
Posthumous style not applicable

Patrick Fernández Flores (July 26, 1929 – January 9, 2017), was a Roman Catholic cleric who from 1979 to 2004 was the Archbishop of San Antonio, Texas. Flores was the first Mexican American to become a bishop of the Catholic Church.

Early life

Flores was born in 1929 to Patrico and Trinidad Fernandez de Flores, American migrant workers, in Ganado, Texas. In the tenth grade he considered dropping out of school after his father had become ill, but he was persuaded to stay after a bishop agreed to finance his education. He worked as a janitor at a local cantina and decided to make the world a cleaner and more habitable place by becoming a priest.

He graduated from Catholic Kirwin High School (now O'Connell Consolidated High School) in Galveston, Texas. He studied at St. Mary's Seminary in La Porte, Texas and at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston. He received his divinity degree and was ordained a priest on May 26, 1956 by bishop Wendelin Joseph Nold in Galveston. He then served as a parish priest in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston.

In the early 1960s, he directed the Christian Family Movement in the Galveston-Houston diocese and the Bishop's Committee for the Spanish Speaking, a ministry that encouraged bilingual congregations. Later, in October 1969, Flores joined forty-seven other Hispanic priests to establish PADRES Padres Asociados para Derechos Religiosos, Educativos, y Sociales (Spanish for "Priests Associated for Religious, Education, and Social Rights"), an organization meant to draw attention to the problems of Hispanics in the church and society.

As bishop and archbishop

On May 5, 1970 he was consecrated a bishop by Archbishop Luigi Raimondi. He was appointed auxiliary to the archbishop of San Antonio. Also in May 1970, Flores was appointed chairman of the Texas State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and that July he became national chaplain for the League of United Latin American Citizens. In 1972, he was co-founder and honorary chairman of the Mexican-American Cultural Center in San Antonio.

In 1978 he was appointed bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of El Paso and then in 1979 the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio, which was, at the time, the largest ecclesiastical province in the United States.

In 1980, Flores became a member of the Hispanic Caucus Committee, and in 1981, he founded Catholic Television of San Antonio, the first diocesan television station in the United States. In 1997, when Billy Graham headlined a religious crusade at the Alamodome, Flores taped radio spots in English and Spanish to promote the event. Graham later credited Flores for the large response from the area's largely Catholic Hispanic community.

Flores' suit against the city of Boerne, Texas in his bid to expand St. Peter's Church there led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision City of Boerne v. Flores (1997), which struck down certain provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 as unconstitutionally exceeding the powers granted to the Congress under Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment.

After reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75, Flores retired from his position on December 29, 2004 and became Archbishop emeritus.

His motto was Laborabo non mihi sed omnibus, "I will work not for myself but for others".[2]

June 2000 hostage situation

On June 27, 2000, Nelson Antonio Escolero, a native of El Salvador and a legal U.S. resident, held Flores hostage for over nine hours in his office in the Catholic Chancery. Escolero had been arrested for driving with a suspended license and feared that he would be deported. Armed with a fake grenade, he also held the archbishop's secretary Myrtle Sanchez for the first two hours of the stand-off. Police hostage negotiators had been in contact with Escolero throughout the day, but were taken by surprise when he released Flores and surrendered in the evening.[3]


On October 6, 2007, A Migrant's Masterpiece an hour-long documentary depicting Flores' life premiered in San Antonio. Directed by Hector Galan, it seeks to place the archbishop's life in the context of "the history of Latinos in Texas, [and] the Civil Rights Movement in Texas" according to Pat Rogers, communications director for the Archdiocese of San Antonio. The film was funded through private donations to the Archdiocese and uses rare archival film and interviews with the Flores' family. It is set to air on American public television in the future.[4]


Flores died on January 9, 2017, of congestive heart failure and pneumonia at the Padua retirement home in San Antonio.[5]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Titular Bishop of Italica
May 5, 1970 – May 29, 1978
Succeeded by
James Robert Hoffman
Preceded by
Sidney Matthew Metzger
Bishop of El Paso
May 29, 1978 – October 13, 1979
Succeeded by
Raymundo Joseph Peña
Preceded by
Francis James Furey
Archbishop of San Antonio
August 23, 1979 – December 29, 2004
Succeeded by
José Horacio Gómez


  1. ^ "Archbishop Patrick Fernández Flores †". www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved March 20, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Archbishop Patrick Flores". Archived from the original on January 14, 2006. 
  3. ^ Holley, Joe (June 29, 2000). "Thank God!; Archbishop freed unharmed after 9 hours". Express-News. Retrieved October 21, 2007. 
  4. ^ Knapp, Deborah (September 28, 2007). "Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Flores' life featured in film". KENS 5 Eyewitness News. Retrieved October 21, 2007. [dead link]
  5. ^ Shadrock, Chris (January 9, 2017). "Former Archbishop Patrick Flores dies at 87". KSAT-12. Retrieved January 9, 2017.