The homilies of Father David Garcia


Father David Garcia, officially speaking, will tell you that he is retired after 46 years as Catholic priest. This, I will tell you, is very misleading. The publication this month of his book Preaching in the event of a pandemic: the pulpit in a year like no other is the final testament to the continued work of one of the most influential clerics in contemporary San Antonio history.

Garcia’s reputation extends far beyond the city, as a result of his global work for Catholic Relief Services, his scholarships at Harvard and Notre Dame, and his theological studies in Europe and Mexico. Locally, he is best known for leading the $ 21 million restoration of the Cathedral of San Fernando, completed in 2003, and then the $ 16 million restoration of churches in the four Spanish missions. Without Garcia’s work, San Antonio would not have achieved UNESCO World Heritage recognition.

I listened to Garcia’s homilies in the Cathedral of San Fernando and, years later, in the small spiritual limits of Mission Concepción where he was administrator of the parish while also being director of the former Spanish missions of San Antonio .

His talent for weaving current events, human interest stories, and lessons from the scriptures makes him one of the most relevant and engaging preachers I have known. He doesn’t hesitate to inject a little humor into Sunday Mass from the pulpit, or use the promise of free breakfast tacos as a parish raffle.

Pandemic preaching is now available on Amazon, and copies will be available later this month following Mass at San Fernando Cathedral and Mission Concepción, as well as the Pearl’s Twig Bookstore. Proceeds from sales will benefit Catholic Charities, Refugee Resettlement, Assumption Seminary and Las Misiones. As the title suggests, the book is the set of homilies delivered virtually by Garcia from March 2020 to April 2021 on 52 Sundays and eight days of celebration. His email list of friends has grown steadily throughout the long pandemic, as every week more and more people have requested to receive the homilies.

Preaching in the event of a pandemic: the pulpit in a year like no other by David Garcia credit“>Credit: Courtesy / Wipf & Stock

Influencers on Garcia’s list, like State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, shared the homilies with their own mailing lists and networks of social media followers, expanding the audience by the thousands.

“I sent Father David’s homily to about 10,000 people in San Antonio and across the state,” said Martinez Fischer. “They say that in politics you always have to be careful about discussing religion, but the comments I received from people of all faiths were very positive. The pandemic was a dark place, and being able to read his homilies at the family dinner table on Sunday was very spiritual, especially considering the impact he was having far beyond our home. “

Martha Martinez Flores, Creative Director at MM Creative, and her husband Mike Flores, Chancellor of Alamo Colleges, were also among Garcia’s many dedicated followers.

“Not being able to attend Mass at Mission Concepción with family during the pandemic was very difficult, but Father David’s homilies gave us hope and strength during a difficult time,” said Martinez Flores. “We read them as a family every week to feel connected to the outside world and to our faith,” she said.

Garcia’s messages marrying the contemporary experience of pandemic with trials recorded in the gospels has given people of faith the comfort that this time, too, will pass. Where others have found themselves in conflict with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues over pandemic politics, several people who have read the weekly homilies have told me they have become more resilient. , more indulgent and more understanding towards others, despite significant differences.

“I always tried to start with a contemporary human story, many of which recognized heroes of the pandemic, and I always referred to the scriptures, relying on them to ask what we can learn to help each other, to be a better community and country, ”Garcia said in a conversation earlier this week. “I saw the pandemic as a time to engage in a deep reflection on who we are and how we are becoming a better society. ”

My friendship with “Father David” began shortly after I arrived in San Antonio as editor of the San Antonio Light in 1989. Garcia, then a faculty member of the Assumption Seminary, was a member of the committee. citizen advisory of the newspaper. In 1995, he became rector of the historic Cathedral of San Fernando, the oldest Catholic shrine in the United States, a position he held until 2008.

The cathedral was historic, but it was also in poor condition. Garcia has proven to be a very compelling fundraiser. The $ 21 million he raised not only funded the restoration of the cathedral, but also the construction of a new hall in the cathedral center and the AT&T San Fernando community center.

A momentous moment came in 2001 or 2002 when Garcia convinced me to join him in a spontaneous ascent of the scaffolding that stretched from one end of the interior of the cathedral to the other, like a canvas of Giant Spider Man. I’m not looking for opportunities to climb artificial heights, but Garcia was determined to show me architectural details not visible from the ground, including 19th century graffiti nestled in the upper part of the steeple where the workers had left their initials.

In the end, Garcia extraordinary vision, energy and ability to raise funds from both Catholics and non-Catholics led to the comprehensive restoration of the Cathedral of San Fernando both as an architectural gem valued by people of all faiths as well as an active parish with the Spanish language and the diffusion of bilingual masses in all the Americas.

Fast forward to his work in the cathedral and in the Spanish missions, and his time as pastor of Mission Concepción, and he found his place in the digital age, sending homilies from his virtual pulpit, in the service of a congregation that knows no borders.

Too bad for retirement.


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