The Most Reverend
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.
1 Early life
2 As bishop and archbishop
3 June 2000 hostage situation
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
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
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
Raimondi. He was appointed auxiliary to the archbishop of San Antonio.
Also in May 1970, Flores was appointed chairman of the
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
City of Boerne v. Flores
City of Boerne v. Flores (1997), which struck down certain
provisions of the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
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
His motto was Laborabo non mihi sed omnibus, "I will work not for
myself but for others".
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.
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
Flores died on January 9, 2017, of congestive heart failure and
pneumonia at the Padua retirement home in San Antonio.
Catholic Church titles
Bishop of Italica
May 5, 1970 – May 29, 1978
James Robert Hoffman
Sidney Matthew Metzger
Bishop of El Paso
May 29, 1978 – October 13, 1979
Raymundo Joseph Peña
Francis James Furey
Archbishop of San Antonio
August 23, 1979 – December 29, 2004
José Horacio Gómez
Archbishop Patrick Fernández Flores †".
www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
Archbishop Patrick Flores". Archived from the original on January
^ Holley, Joe (June 29, 2000). "Thank God!;
Archbishop freed unharmed
after 9 hours". Express-News. Retrieved October 21, 2007.
^ Knapp, Deborah (September 28, 2007). "
Flores' life featured in film". KENS 5 Eyewitness News. Retrieved
October 21, 2007. [dead link]
^ Shadrock, Chris (January 9, 2017). "Former
Archbishop Patrick Flores
dies at 87". KSAT-12. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
Davidson, John. "A Simple Man".
Texas Monthly. Vol. 1981
no. July. p. 127 et. seq.
Special section - San Antonio Express-News
Bishop Flores at Catholic hierarchy
Biography at jrank.org