Driving home from Cotulla we had every intention of stopping at Hillcrest Tortillas and Bakery in Hebbronville.  We’d eaten the last of the tamales purchased mid-October; and my sweet tooth was already contemplating the prospect of empanadas, pan de nuez, or some other caloric treat.  But one does not live by bread alone!

Photo opportunity

“Do you think we can swing by Our Lady of Guadalupe first?” I asked.

We’d first visited Hebbronville with the Texas Tropical Trail group, June 16, 2009.  Then Steven and I had returned for Vaquero Fest the first Saturday in November.

After the parade we’d followed the celebration to the plaza and learned that Our Lady of Guadalupe was hosting its own festivities: a tour of the chapel; a book reading in the church basement; and, for the fortunate few like us, a tour of Scottus College.  Oh, the views from the breezeway!

Steven interrupted my thoughts.

“What if it’s locked?  It’s just past noon.  What if Mass already started?  I don’t want to get down in shorts.”

“It’ll be okay,” I said.  “We’ll stay in the back, and I’ll take photos afterwards.”


Several cars occupied the parking area in front of Scottus College.  Mass?  A conference? 

A mom and her kids walked out to their vehicle.  Vacation Bible school?  Day care?

With my Coolpix and the Word among us in hand, we approached the church entrance and found, to our amazement, that one of the doors was wide open.

Stepping into the vestibule, we looked past the glass doors into the darkened nave.  Our persistence had paid off.  We had the church all to ourselves!














Blessed Mother, queen of peace…  Ever blessed and immaculate Mary, you are the heavenly patroness of our country.  In your generous kindness, we beg you to obtain for us a more perfect union, domestic tranquility, justice for all our citizens, and the blessings of peace and prosperity for us and our descendants.  Help us view all the people of this world as children of God and as our brothers and sisters.  [Help us] to seek just and peaceful means to redress even the most grievous wrongs done against us.  Amen.

Devotion to St. Francis…  Beloved St. Francis, gentle and poor, your obedience to God and your simple, deep love for all God’s creatures led you to the heights of heavenly perfection and turned many hearts to follow God’s will.  Pray for us [and for] the many who come here searching for peace.  Intercede for us as we come before the Lord with our special requests.  Blessed saint of God, from your throne among the hosts of heaven, present our petitions before our faithful Lord.  May your prayers on our behalf be heard and may God grant us the grace to lead good and faithful lives.  Amen.  St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

Meditation…  Lord God, you watch over us every moment of the day, even when we are not thinking of you.  Help us turn to you from time to time as we pause in our work.  Let us not forget who you are, who we are, why we are here and that we are all, however slowly, returning to you who made us for yourself.  Please teach us how to pray even when words won’t come, when our spirits are heavy, when our minds are tired.  By the merits of Christ, our savior who knew times of tiredness and lonesomeness, we ask your aid.  Amen.

Contact information

The prayers above are just three of fourteen featured in Prayers for peace (B-140) from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.


August 11, 2018

“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart” (St. Francis of Assisi).

Links of interest…  Hillcrest Tortillas, Inc: Authentic Texas (pp. 52-53) / monthly partner event (Sept 2014) / reviews…  Let prayer bring peace to your soul…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church & Scottus College (more)… Our Lady: mother / patroness / storytilma…  Persistence: Francisco Joaquin…  Sacred Heart of Jesus…  St. Anthony: traditions & miraclesrelic…  St. Francis: about / biography / national shrine…  St. Isidore: farmer (more) / feast / litany novena / preserving our inheritance of faith / printable prayer / quotes…  Texas Tropical Trail

WP posts…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Grapes of generosity…  Historic nuggets…  Honoring Joselito…  St. Anthony…  Vaquero Fest Saturday

Franciscan treasures


Sunday night I couldn’t sleep, so I revisited three old posts and got to work.  I’ve found that folks don’t like to access pdf photo files.  The reasons might be that the files take too long to open or there’s lack of interest in the unknown.  What I also know is that some computers are slow to open files so, little by little, I’m replacing pdf files with photos for easier viewing.

Too many photos

Take the monthly TX Tropical Trail Region outing in Hebbronville, for instance.

As part of the day’s activities, we visited the church, its adjoining college, the tortilleria, and the barbecue restaurant where the afternoon presentations took place; so we took lots of photos.  Too many, really, but more is better for selection purposes.

Of course, our favorites that day were taken at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Scottus College so I added some of the extra photos as pdf files on my post.  But why attach them if no one accesses them?  Why not create a second post with the photos instead?  This way, if someone’s interested in visiting Hebbronville, for instance, they have an idea of what to expect.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church










Scottus College




Franciscan treasures

When we first visited in June, the church was in a state of metamorphosis.  When we returned five months later, the church had been restored except for the murals that had yet to be painted; and the college was undergoing a transformation of its own.




Since then, I’ve wondered off and on what all has transpired since November, 2009.  Were the murals painted after all?  What does the interior of Scottus College look like now?  What other changes have been made?

Certainly, we look forward to attending Mass there one day soon; but the biggest draw for us is the amazing spirit of the church community that’s forever grateful for its Franciscan treasures.

Prayer by Pope John Paul II (January, 1979)

O Immaculate Virgin, mother of the true God and mother of the church, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your son, Jesus, our sole redeemer.

St. Michael's - Banquete

St. Michael the Archangel – Banquete, TX

Mother of mercy, teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who comes to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love.  We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities, and our sorrows.  Grant peace, justice, and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our lady and mother.  We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in his church.  Hold us always with your loving hand.

Virgin of Guadalupe, mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the bishops that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life of love and humble service of God and souls.  Contemplate this immense harvest and intercede with the Lord that he may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the son of God.  Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.

Our Hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus; and, if we fall, help us to rise again to return to him by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the sacrament of penance, which gives peace to the soul.

We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your son left us on earth.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ who, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

February 6, 2017

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures” (Thornton Wilder).


Links of interest…  Hebbronville: aboutcounty seat / history / landmarks & legacies…  Mexico: persecution of Christians / plenty of priests / undercover priest (Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro: video)…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church & Scottus College (more)…  Shades of deep teal…  St. Anthony’s bread…  TX Tropical Trail Region…  Where is your treasure

WP posts…  Franciscan experience…  Grapes of generosity…  Historic nuggets…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Persistence…  Saint of miracles…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony…  St. Anthony chaplets…  St. Felix…  Vaquero Fest Saturday

St. Anthony


Our second visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Hebbronville was met with smiles.


Rosita and Julie (in green), a devotee of St. Anthony of Padua, chatted with us as we waited for Azalia to give us a VIP tour.

For many years, Julie has celebrated St. Anthony’s feast day by distributing homemade bread and prayer cards.  She also prays the novenas.

Like Julie I, too, have collected prayers, cards, and photos over the years.  My love for St. Anthony began at age thirteen when my great-aunt, Tía Queta, introduced us through a prayer card she gave me.

Of course, my favorite pictures of St. Anthony are those that Segy took knowing how much I’d enjoy them.



Quick response

Steven called and asked me to locate a very important file, but I didn’t find it.  Feeling somewhat perturbed, Steven said he’d look for it when he got home, so we hung up.

St. Anthony, Steven really needs that file right now, I thought.  Please let him find what he’s looking for in his briefcase.  “Tony, Tony, look around.  Steven’s very important file is missing and must be found.” 

A few minutes later, Steven emailed.

I was more forward-thinking than I give myself credit for.  I figured I’d be asked for information, so I put the folder in the briefcase in the vehicle so I would have it with me.  Duh!  Thanks for looking.  Had it here all the time.

I chuckled and replied.

Oh, darling!  You owe St. Anthony… whose photos I’ve been resizing for a post since before you called… a HUGE thank you!

Mom didn’t believe me either.

One afternoon I went by mom’s after work, and she was going nutz.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

She’d looked for her diamond ring for days and couldn’t find it anywhere.

“Have you called on St. Anthony for help?”

She rolled her eyes and snickered.  Clearly, she was exasperated from looking everywhere she could think of.

Mentally, I asked St. Anthony to find the ring for her and then headed out the door to drive home.

Would you believe it?

When I got home, I had a phone message waiting for me.  Mom had looked again in the piano bench just as she’d done many times before.  Only this time, amazingly, she’d found her ring atop the music books as if someone had just placed it there.

Sooo, yes.  I’m a believer.  And you should be, too.

March 17, 2010

Funny how things happen.

Two Saturdays ago, Steven used the UT parking permit he’d checked out at work when we attended Fiddler on the Roof at the performing arts center in Austin.  Only it was nowhere to be found when we got home on Sunday.

We looked everywhere… in our books, in the vehicle, in our suitcases… many times to no avail; so, having no other recourse, I called on St. Anthony once again.

As Steven said, it wasn’t that he’d have to pay for a replacement.  Rather, the office has too few for any to be misplaced; so we really wanted to find it.

When Steven got home from work today, he started packing.  He has a meeting at UT tomorrow morning, so he reached for the book he’d taken to Austin the last time.

“Would you believe it?” he walked over to tell me.  “I just happened to open the book, and look what I found!”

He held up the UT parking permit and then chuckled.  “And, here, I’d forgotten to check out another permit for tomorrow… and for Saturday’s performance.”

Steven was amazed.

“This is weird,” he continued.  “The book was locked in my briefcase until after we got home and I set it out on the hearth.”

He hadn’t opened the briefcase, much less read the book in Austin.

“How could the permit have been in the book?”

“You see?  I told you St. Anthony would find it for you!  Remember mom’s diamond ring?”

Thank you, St. Anthony!

Seek God’s kingdom above all else.  Make it the most important thing in your life.  Everything else must be sought in view of this kingdom; nothing should be asked beyond it.  Whatever we ask must serve this end (St. Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231).


One…  O good and gentle St. Anthony, your love of God and concern for his creatures made you worthy, while on earth, to possess miraculous powers.  Come to my help in this moment of trouble and anxiety.  Your ardent love of God made you worthy to hold the Holy Infant in your arms.  Whisper to him my humble request if it be for the greater glory of God and the salvation of my soul.  Amen.

Two…  Anthony, through your teaching and preaching, you bore witness to the loving presence of God in all of creation.  Now that you have come into the fullness of the kingdom, pray for us that our lives might also proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all humanity.

V.  Pray for us, St. Anthony.
R.  Help us become worthy of the promises of Christ.

Almighty, eternal God, you have given your people St. Anthony as an outstanding preacher and intercessor in times of need.  Grant that with his help we may follow in the example of Christian living and experience your support in all adversities.  We ask through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Three…  St. Anthony, gentle servant of God, help me find ways to honor God’s blessings by showing my love for all of God’s creatures.  Share your strength that I may cope with the trials and troubles of daily life.  You, through whose voice the Word of God was preached, intercede for my need [mention your special request].  Powerful patron, be with me always and teach me to reach out in love and support to others.  Amen.

Act of consecration

Rogationist Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Gift: Rogationist Fathers
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Glorious St. Anthony, I salute you as a good servant of Christ and a special friend of God.  You once were favored to hold the Christ Child in your arms as you cherished his world in your heart.

Today I place all my cares, temptations, and anxieties in your hands.  I resolve ever to honor you by imitating your example.

Powerful patron, model of purity, and victor over fleshly impulses, please win for me and for all devoted to you perfect purity of body, mind, and heart.  I promise, by my example and counsel, to help others to the knowledge, love, and service of God.  Amen.

Litany of the lost

Lord have mercy.  Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.  Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.  Lord have mercy.

For those of us who have lost…

Our health…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our peace of mind…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our housing…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our financial security…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
A loved one…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our dreams…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our talents…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our initial zeal…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our sobriety…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our faith…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our self-respect…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our perspective…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our innocence…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our independence…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Peace within our families…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Civil peace…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our trust in others…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our virtue…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
Our home…  St. Anthony, pray for us.
(Add your own particular loss…  St. Anthony, pray for us.)

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.  Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.  Have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.  Have mercy on us.

Let us pray.

All loving God, you have given us St. Anthony, the patron of the lost, as an intercessor of those who are in need of your mercy.  Listen to his voice as he calls out to you on our behalf and grant those things which will help us to grow in your love.  We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Contact information


To order A Collection of Favorite Prayers from the St. Lawrence Seminary, contact the school.  The addresses for the other booklets can be found on the “creditspage.

Links of interest…  Basilica in Padua…  Dear St. Anthony…  Do you need a miracle in your life?…  Feast…  Forget the money, ask St. Anthony…  Franciscan saints…  How St. Anthony found me…  June 13th…  Mail deliveries (S.A.G.)…  Saint for lost things…  Sardine heaven: Portugal…  Shrine…  St. Anthony of Padua…  What is St. Anthony’s bread… 

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures …  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  My Franciscan crown…  Persistence…  Prayer…  Promise of hope…  Saint of miracles…  Si quaeris miracula…  Soulful…  St. Anthony chaplets…  St. Felix…  Tony’s big day…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Vaquero Fest Saturday

Franciscan experience


Steven and I toured Our Lady of Guadalupe in Hebbronville, TX the day of Vaquero Fest.  (The edited version below is from the audio recording made November 7, 2009.)

“My name is Azalia Perez, and I’m the president of the Hebbronville Museum Foundation and member of the Jim Hogg County Historical Commission.  I’m also an active parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Hebbronville.”

The church

OLG11709-85“This is Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.  Our Franciscan friars got here in 1926 from the Province of the Saints Francis and Santiago, or James, in Guadalajara, Mexico; and they’ve been here ever since.

“The church is in the form of a cross.  All Franciscan churches are built in the form of a cross.  You have the main altar with two small altars, one on either side.  The church gets a new priest every three years, since Franciscans are missionaries subject to reassignment more often than regular priests.

“In 2005, Father Ricardo Rivera came to Hebbronville and started changing our church, which was very plain.  Father said we have a beautiful church, so we need to show it off.  It was donated by Stella Kenedy in memory of her husband.   It’s the only Franciscan church in South Texas.

“The altar is made from wood that was brought from San Luis Potosi.  Father had the altar moved toward the front, and it’s bigger now.

“We also got new lights, marble on the sides of the church, and lit panels.  The ceiling will be getting a new cover, and more changes are coming.”

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St. Anthony’s relic

“We have St. Anthony on the right as one faces the altar.  In May, part of St. Anthony’s elbow, or relic, visited our church.  The bishop was present for the ceremony, a special Mass, and fellowship before the relic was taken to another church.”

“This is similar to the activities at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff when Our Lady of Guadalupe’s tilma arrived for a three-day visit,” I said.  “We had a wonderful Mass and, of course, a potluck afterwards.  Different festivities took place during her stay and, at the end, a despedida Mass and a short procession from the church to the van that transported the tilma to its next destination.”

“When St. Anthony’s relic crossed the border from Mexico into the United States, it got to San Agustin Church, the basilica in Laredo.  Although our diocese is not Franciscan, the bishop did not want to release the relic until all our churches were blessed, so he invited everyone to the cathedral for Mass and a celebration.  Only then was the relic brought to Hebbronville.  We were very blessed to have St. Anthony’s relic, even if for a short time, Sunday morning until Sunday night.  It will visit every Franciscan church in the United States and Mexico before it returns to Italy.”

OLG-DM61609  OLG11709-83  StP-tilma  LSA91509-89


“Here at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church we celebrate the Divine Mercy.  We are very blessed because not every priest supports this devotion.  We also have a spiritual relationship with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Francis, and St. Joseph.  We have a statue of St. Isidore on one of the side altars because he’s the patron of farmers.  Since ours is a farming and ranching community, the church was originally named St. Isidore.  But that changed in 1926, when the Franciscans arrived from Mexico.  Our Lady of Guadalupe is the protector of our priests as well as the patroness of the Americas.”

HOLG11709-105      OLG11709-96      OLG11709-87

HOLG11709-113      HOLG11709-95      HOLG11709-119

The chapel

Next, we walked into the Annex, which is through the side door on St. Anthony’s right.

“After tomorrow this will be known as the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament,” Azalia continued.  “Our provincial is visiting here from Guadalajara, so he’ll bless the chapel after seven o’clock Mass.”

On entering the chapel, I couldn’t help but say, “Oh, I love angels.  I love angels.”

“If you look around, we have paintings, beautiful paintings.  The artist is from Monterrey.  We use the chapel every day for early morning Mass at seven and again at twelve-fifteen.  This room used to be longer; but, when Father Ricardo arrived here, he turned part of it into an office and put up some Tau windows.

“Earlier today, part of our Franciscan fraternity met with the provincial.  I told him, ‘We, in Hebbronville, are in love with the Franciscan charisma, with St. Francis.’  We will never change our priests for anything, so now he knows that we won’t let him take our priests away from us.”

“Are you kidding?” I interjected.  “This is ever so special!”

Building community

“The church remodeling is an ongoing project.  We still have lots to do here and in the church.  It takes a lot of money.  We’re a poor community, so we greatly appreciate not only the heartfelt efforts and contributions from our parishioners but also the generosity of others willing to help us with this endeavor.”

“So have you always been fascinated with all of this?” I asked.

OLG11709-bk“Yes.  A priest who was here for a time wrote a history of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and the Franciscans in South Texas.  I have seven copies to sell, but the book’s in Spanish.”

Knowing my fascination with Franciscans, Steven got me a copy (Villalobos Avendaño, 2006) after today’s book reading in the church basement.  I can hardly wait to see the old photos and read through the interesting facts.

I stopped taking photos for a moment, then continued.

“We came to Vaquero Fest today because we love Bill Hellen.  From the beginning, he piqued our curiosity when he insisted we ‘come see the old church.’  During our first visit, Lorenzo [one of the workmen] invited us back.  Then, in Laredo, you told us, ‘You have to come because it’s ready.’  So I told Steven, ‘She invited us.  That’s it.’  You’re the reason we’re here.”

“Oh, thank you!  I’m so glad to hear that!”

“This visit means a lot to us,” I continued.  “Even though we’re in different places, still, we’re part of the same community.”

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HOLG11709-110      HOLG11709-106      HOLG11709-109

“What more can I tell you?  All our windows were donated by parishioners.  They’re very old.  They’re as old as the church.  I don’t know if the work was completed in 1962, more or less, or in 1963.  Construction started, stopped due to lack of funds, then started again.  We’re very blessed with our church.  There’s something unique about it.”

“It’s gorgeous!” Steven enthused.

“So tell me about your history with the church growing up.  Your mother brought you?”

“My mother and my grandmother,” Azalia continued.  “Actually, my grandmother on my dad’s side.  I grew up when the priest was facing the altar.  Most of the time, you didn’t know what he was saying.”

“Yes, in Latin.  Yes.  I understand,” Steven chuckled.  (We both took Latin in high school, but it’s a dead language nonetheless.)

“We would walk four or five blocks from my grandmother’s house to church for Mass at six.  My husband and I got married in 1966, baptized my children here; and my son, who now lives in Kingsville, got married here.  I’ve been working with the church since 1982.”

“My gosh,” I said, recalling my own early morning walks with Sylvia to attend six o’clock Mass as a kid.  “That’s a very long, personal history with this church.”

“I had a special-needs child who took all my time, so I couldn’t be here fulltime.  But, after he passed away, I said, ‘Lord, here I am.’  So this is what I’ve been doing ever since.”

“Was your child a boy or a girl?” I asked, as Steven listened intently.

“A boy.  Actually, up until the time that he was born he was okay.  But, because of complications at birth, he died in 1992.  That was seventeen years ago.  He would’ve been thirty-one right now.”

OLG11709-100        OLG11709-93        OLG11709-92

“What a blessing to have him the time that you did but how very sad, too,” I said.

“You learn early on that God has sent your trial to show you something or to teach you something.  And we did.  We did.  We think we did.”

“All he wants is the very best for us,” I continued.  “But, as you said, he allows us to go through situations he knows we can handle, even though it’s tough at times to understand that.”

“As soon as he passed away I sponsored the altar servers for twelve years.  Then I joined the choir and the Franciscan fraternity.  And, when Father Frank arrived, he gave me the ministry for baptisms.  I’m very happy with that.”

“You get to deal with the little ones!  Well, they come in all sizes for baptism.”

Azalia smiled.  “They do.  They’re precious.  I try to be at every baptism.  Sometimes I can’t, but this new priest is adorable.  He’s very spiritual.  Father Frank replaced Father Ricardo in August.  The first time I saw him celebrating a baptism, he lifted the baby all the way and announced, ‘Parishioners, I present to you a newborn Christian.’  That was beautiful.  I tell the parents, ‘Bring your cameras because, once your baby’s up there, it’s awesome.’”

“It’s just that one quick moment, and then it’s over,” I said, remembering.  “It has to be captured in photos, so the child can know that this very special event happened.”

We talked a bit more before Azalia realized that she had tours to give as well as other duties to fulfill that afternoon.

“Well, thank you for coming!  I didn’t expect for y’all to come, but I’m glad you did.”

“Thank you!  You are very blessed, Azalia!”

Steven and I were most appreciative of the time she spent with us.


Lord God, to whom belongs all creation and who call us to serve you by caring for the gifts that surround us; inspire us by the example of Saint Isidore to share our food with the hungry and to work for the salvation of all people.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

December 13, 2009 

Azalia emailed and included photos.

We just finished with Our Lady of Guadalupe feast.  It was wonderful.  We had a large turnout for the Mass and the dinner.  Thanks be to God.

I’m sending you some pictures of the altar.

Oh, the last picture is of Father Juan José.  He was with us for two months but is leaving for Spain on Wednesday.  He will be helping another Franciscan who is by himself and needs help.  Great example of St. Francis.

“We are minstrels of the Lord, whose work is to lift people’s hearts and move them to spiritual gladness” (St. Francis).


April 4, 2014

All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.  By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned
(St. Isidore of Seville).

April 4, 2017

“There are two kinds of martyrs, one in open suffering, the other in the hidden virtue of the spirit” (St. Isidore).



Links of interest…  Divine Mercy: about / song (YouTube)…  Franciscan: experience / prayer / resources…  How early churches came to be built in the form of a cross…  La Mota Ranch: Bill Hellen (agritourism: more / fishing & hunting)…  Mexico is the most violent Latin American country for priests…  Our Lady of Guadalupe: church (Hebbronville) / mother / patroness / tilma…  Sacred Heart of Jesus…  Scottus College (more)…  St. Anthony: traditions & miracles / relic…  St. Francis: about /  biography / national shrine…  St. Isidore: farmer (more) / feast / litany novena /  preserving our inheritance of faith / printable prayer / quotes…  Texas Tropical Trail…  St. Joseph…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / parishes online / website…  Tau cross…  TX Tropical Trail Region

WP posts…  Franciscan treasures…  Grapes of generosity…  Historic nuggets…  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…  Persistence…  Prayer…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony…  St. Felix…  Vaquero Fest Saturday

Vaquero Fest Saturday

November seventh, Steven and I headed to Hebbronville very early in the morning.  We were excited about our first Vaquero Fest experience, so we arrived before nine to await the parade on North Smith Avenue.

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Afterwards, we walked over to explore what I thought had been a hotel in another lifetime.  What a gem!  I wondered what it would say if it could speak.  Steven later asked Bill Hellen about the building and learned that a man from Fort Worth owns it now.  Historical landmarks like this one come with lots of regulations attached to preserve their integrity, so maybe this is delaying its beautification.

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We walked down the main street for a few blocks before heading back to the car, so we could drive around town.  A really quaint barbecue place by the railroad tracks caught me eye.  The small, narrow, triangular building looks like a long-ago whistle stop.  Unfortunately, we were in traffic on the wrong side, so I missed the photo op.  I’ll save it for next time around, I guess, though I did get another goodie instead.


At the plaza, we listened to some mighty fine singers, young folks trying to break into the music industry.

The young woman, Mallorie, handed out autographed CDs afterwards.  She told me she’ll be cutting an album soon, so I wished her great success.

Making the rounds, we finally found Bill and his lovely Elva and then visited briefly with Joe and Cordy on our way to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church diagonally across from the plaza.  We didn’t want to miss Hernan’s cuentos viejos presentation in the church basement.


Up until then, we’d been thinking only about the tour of the Scotus College breezeway that we’d missed back in June.  We’d spoken with R. J. at the parade, and he’d promised us a tour if we arrived early for Hernan’s lecture.  We’d thought the church would be locked; but, much to our surprise, two ladies, Julie and Rosa Elia, were monitoring the front doors.  We asked if we could enter and were graciously told that Azalia, one of the ladies whom we’ve met through the TX Tropical Trail Region (TTTR) meetings, was giving tours of the church and the chapel.  Boy, oh, boy, were we excited to have our very own VIP tours!

After the tours and the presentation, we agreed we’d accomplished our goals for the day, so we decided to swing back by the plaza before heading for home.  First, we spent time observing Isaac and Gabriel at their kettle korn booth.


Steven and I love making popcorn from scratch, but this looked dangerously intriguing.  Isaac has to wear gloves, long sleeves, and a face mask!

VF11709-166Isaac told us he buys huge bags of ACT II, since it pops best; and he’s not at all concerned about stray poppers lost during the process.  He and his brother travel to numerous fairs from Hebbronville to Floresville to Alice and back, and he really enjoys what he does.  Next, we visited with Louie and his assistant, Mark.  Louie had samples of his pan de campo, so we couldn’t resist buying some of that, too.  It’s an immense glorified flour tortilla with an appealing name, cowboy bread, absolutely perfect for Vaquero Fest and just fine without butter, too.

Fun times

VF11709-171Walking around the plaza one last time, we saw kids of all ages enjoying themselves as they listened to the music, ate, strolled around like us, bought items from the vendors, or just plain window shopped.  We were glad to have joined in the day’s festivities.  We’d bought delicious tacos from the Knights of Columbus, visited the fine folks we’ve befriended through TTTR, and enjoyed our time at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

Once again, we were taken with the friendliness of the townspeople with whom we interacted.  The church parishioners this time around were as nice as Lorenzo and his co-workers were during our first visit.  We felt so welcomed into their community that I’m pretty sure we’ll go back to visit, especially since Azalia told us that Father Frank intends to have murals and frescoes painted in the church.

Won’t that be an awesome sight?!!

Photo files…  book reading…  old hotel

Links of interest…  Hebbronville: aboutcounty seat / history (more) / landmarks & legacies…  La Mota Ranch: Bill Hellen (agritourism: more / fishing & hunting)…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church & Scottus College (more)…  South TX ranching traditions celebrated in Hebbronville…  TX Tropical Trail Region…  Vaquero Fest

WP posts…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Grapes of generosity
…  Historic nuggets…  Honoring Joselito…  Persistence…  St. Anthony

Grapes of generosity


Hebbronville did such a fantabulous job hosting June’s TX Tropical Trail Region (TTTR) meeting last week that its memory lingers.  The place Bill Hellen refers to as “the old church,” the food, and the guest speakers specially invited to build on the day’s theme made our day unforgettable.

What impressed me most, though, was the down to earth quality of the people we met.  The smiles were genuine; the showing and telling, energized and personal.  The day was a perfect getaway, a mini vacation in vaquero country, a place where hospitality is a gift that keeps on giving.

“The old church”

Our first tour was at Scotus College, adjacent to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.  Both were built by the Franciscans who settled the area after fleeing persecution in Mexico in the 1920’s.  From there, the Franciscan priest led the group to the church, while Steven and I stayed behind enjoying the grounds at our own pace.

On entering the church, we were transported to another place in time.  Our sole purpose for attending the day’s presentations had been to spend time at “the old church;” so, when the group moved to the chapel for the next lecture, we continued taking pictures as we explored the church on our own.

Shortly, one of the workmen told the other three to move the scaffolding for us to have better access to the altar.  When I thanked him, we immersed ourselves in conversation.

Lorenzo said that, although Father Ricardo’s been at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church only three years, he’s been the only priest interested in its restoration.  Father Ricardo’s goal is to restore the church so that it matches its Mexican counterparts.  He wants frescos and murals painted on the multi-level ceiling and the walls, too.  Sadly, however, Father’s been asked to return to his hometown in Mexico within a month, although Father will return to monitor the project’s progress on a regular basis.

Lorenzo said that the story of Jesus, beginning with Joseph leading the donkey that carried Mary to Jerusalem, will be painted above the entrance opposite the altar; but there’s a lot to do first.  All the cracks, including the gap in the domed area’s stained glass above the altar, will be repaired; and the church will be rewired so that the surfaces are aesthetically pleasing once everything’s painted.

I asked Lorenzo about the completion date and quickly determined that, with the amount of work yet to be done, the restoration will take longer than the few months he’s anticipating.  “We’d like to attend Mass here and admire the building’s transformation,” I said.  “But how do you manage to have Mass here in the meantime?  Or is Mass not held here?” 

Lorenzo quickly informed us about their all-day cleaning ritual at week’s end to ready the church for Saturday and Sunday services.  “You’re welcome to come any time,” he added.  “The church is ready for Mass every weekend.”

I thanked Lorenzo for his time.  “God bless you and your men, Lorenzo!  You’re doing a fine job.  We’ll be back another time.”

“No te levantes, honey” tortillas

Next was the tour at Hillcrest Tortillas, Inc.       

The owner, Patricia Gonzalez, told us that the factory had never hosted a group our size, but “the family” was “very happy to welcome” all of us.

I really enjoyed her story of the leftover tortillas!


In 2001, Hillcrest began selling breakfast tacos, but not all the tortillas were sold by the end of the workday.  Rather than toss them, Hillcrest chose to share the leftover tortillas with the community.  The tortillas were packaged and set out front for folks to pick up after store hours.  Before long, there weren’t enough packages to satisfy everyone on a daily basis, so Hillcrest purchased a tortilla making machine at “no compromise or sacrifice.”

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Now, the packaged tortillas are sold at local and out of town businesses, and no wonder.  The flour delicacies, which Bill Hellen describes as “no te levantes, honey” tortillas are so light that one’s not enough!

And the tamales?  Oh, my gosh!

I endorsed them on the spot.  “They’re as healthy as the ones Mom makes, only tastier!”

The hospitality and the lemonade complimented the Hillcrest samples, but the best part was taking Hillcrest home with us.  Each person received packages of both white and whole wheat flour tortillas on the way out.

It was like winning the lotto!


Steven told me, “We’ll freeze the tortillas when we get home and take out only what we need so that none goes to waste.”  I told him that the family’s generosity toward the community reminded me of St. Anthony’s bread.  When one does a kindness for others, God’s blessings are multiplied.

Rustic sans snakes

From the tortilla factory we drove across Smith Avenue to the Longhorn.  Walking in was like stepping back in time.  Rustic ambiance, friendly service, tasty barbecue, great lemonade.  Definitely reminiscent of Wagon Train but without the snakes or the desert.



A sculptor and two authors

As we listened, first, to the local speakers and then to the guest lecturers, I was thoroughly impressed with the resourcefulness of the town’s planning committee.  The guest speakers from Laredo… Armando Hinojosa, whose sculpture will be displayed at the State Capitol; and José Antonio López, an author of Texas lore… easily captivated our attention and our amazement.  Each man spoke passionately about his craft and displayed his wares— drawings and books, respectively— for those who wished to buy.




Another author who hadn’t even heard about the TTTR meeting taking place at the restaurant that afternoon, serendipitously walked in for lunch and “was asked to join the group.”  Then he, too, availed both himself and his book to us.

Hernán Moreno-Hinojosa told me that he writes with a triple purpose: “to inform, to entertain, and to stay as historically correct as possible.”

What a great lesson for students past, present, and future!

I learned so much that I felt I’d attended a seminar.  What a privilege to have interacted not only with these incredibly talented men, but also with the group responsible for creating an indelible imprint on both our dendrites and our taste buds!

South Texas hospitality

The icing on the proverbial cake came after the educational presentations when R. J. Molina, Pamela J. Garza, and others doled out lots of unexpected goodies, including pencils, pens, planners, calendars, carpenters’ aprons, candles, and so much more from the various banks and businesses.  The unexpected thoughtfulness went beyond the grapes of generosity.

Two sets of comments heard from our hosts certainly made my day: “We have some tee shirts for you!  And, if you need more, just let us know.  We’ve got ’em!” and “I made the [sand tart] cookies [in the gift bags] using my special recipe.”

The town’s local representatives at the TTTR meeting showed that the town works together to build community.  For such a small place, Hebbronville knocked our socks off by Texas-sizing its story.  Wow!

We’ll definitely be back!

October 17, 2017

On our way home from the Texas Tropical Trail (TTT) monthly partner event in Rio Grande City, we stopped by Hillcrest Tortillas for sweet bread, mouth-watering tortillas, and the best ever tamales.



Perfect timing, too, since Patricia Gonzalez, the owner, was about to leave on her daily delivery run.  Nevertheless, she made the time to share her great news: Nancy Deviney, TTT executive director, had interviewed her for an article in Authentic Texas!

Naturally, we were over the moon for the recognition in the beautiful quarterly, but not really surprised.  Patricia is the epitome of excellence and service within the community and beyond.  She’s giving and down to earth, approachable and good-natured.  She certainly makes time for others.

Stephanie, though shy about being photographed, graciously filled us in on more of the story after Patricia left on her work route and we made our purchases.

We couldn’t believe that more than eight years had passed since our first (and only) visit to Hillcrest.  The business location had changed, but the South Texas hospitality was still as sweet.  So, even as we headed home with our freshly bought stash of sweet bread, tortillas, and tamales, we were already planning our next trip for more.


Links of interest…  Artist: Armando Hinojosa (Tejano Monument)…  Authors: José Antonio López / Hernán Moreno-Hinojosa…  Hebbronville: aboutcounty seat / history / landmarks & legacies…  Hillcrest Tortillas, Inc. (bakery): Authentic Texas (pp. 52-53) / monthly partner event (Sept 2014) / reviews…  La Mota Ranch: Bill Hellen
(agritourism: more / fishing & hunting)…  Mexico: persecution of Christians / plenty of priests / undercover priest (Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro: video)…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church & Scottus College (more)…  South TX ranching traditions celebrated in Hebbronville…  St. Anthony’s bread…  TX Tropical Trail Region

WP posts…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Historic nuggets…  Honoring Joselito…  Persistence…  St. Anthony…  Vaquero Fest Saturday