San Antonio, Texas
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church was founded in 1911 to serve San Antonio’s Spanish-speaking population, many of whom fled the 1910 revolution in Mexico. Originally staffed by members of the Claretian order, the church became a Jesuit congregation in 1932.
The present sanctuary, just two miles west of the city’s downtown River Walk area, was built in 1926 and is the regional sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The church attracts many visitors whose faith in the Protectress of the Americas leads them to pray at the shrine. The church faces the Plaza Guadalupe, which was the site of Pope John Paul II’s speech on September 13, 1987, during his visit to the city; it was the only speech orated in Spanish during that U.S. visit.
Fr. Carmelo Tranchese, S.J., the first Jesuit pastor at the parish, worked to improve conditions in the Guadalupe neighborhood, which was known as one of the nation's worst slums. He was influential in securing public housing legislation for constructing the "Alazan Courts" (in 1937-1938) to provide housing for 932 low-income families. When Eleanor Roosevelt came to Guadalupe Church to review the housing project, Fr. Tranchese took her on a walking tour through the neighborhood.
Today, the parish continues its ministry to a low-income community that is mostly Mexican-American. Church liturgies are rich in Native American and Hispanic culture, and the annual celebration of Our Lady's feast on December 12 is a rich and inspiring occasion.
Our Lady of Guadalupe also operates a Social Service Office, which provides monthly groceries and rent and utilities assistance for those who qualify.