The Valley Catholic
A rich and deep tradition of the Catholic faith has endured in the Rio Grande Valley for almost 500 years.
The first seeds of the Catholic faith were planted in 1519 in the time of the Spanish Conquistadores. An expedition under the command of a Spanish captain named Alonso Alvarez de Pineda brought the first Catholics to the Gulf Coast Area.
The teachings, rituals and customs of the Catholic Church have been handed down continuously from generation to generation, fulfilling the mission that Christ entrusted to the apostles and to us.
Today, the Diocese of Brownsville includes more than a million Catholics, who worship in 71 parishes and 44 missions.
The Catholic faith may be deeply rooted in the Valley’s history and culture, but its diocese is young. While the area was part of the Vicariate Apostolic of Brownsville from 1874 to 1912, the Diocese of Brownsville was established on July 10, 1965 by Pope Paul VI. The ninth diocese in Texas was formed by detaching four counties – Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo and Starr – from the Diocese of Corpus Christi.
The Golden Anniversary of the diocese will be celebrated with several events throughout 2015.
The Family Life Office and Young Adult Ministry Office of the diocese are co-sponsoring one-day pilgrimages of historical sites on Feb. 28, June 13, Aug. 1 and Oct. 24.
Bishop Daniel E. Flores is scheduled to celebrate an open air Mass at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2 in front of the mosaic at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine. The event is open to the public and will serve as the principal event of the Jubilee Year.
Vespers for clergy and religious will be prayed at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville.First Bishop: Most Rev. Adolph Marx
Second Bishop: Most Rev. Humberto Medeiros
Third Bishop: Most Rev. John Joseph Fitzpatrick
Fourth Bishop: Most Rev. Enrique San Pedro
Fifth Bishop: Most Rev. Raymundo J. Peña
The first parish
Island named for local missionary
Cavalry of Christ
The Valley Catholic 50th Anniversary Special Issue
Rev. Humberto S. Medeiros of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass. was appointed the second bishop of Brownsville on April 14, 1966.
He was installed at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville on June 29, 1966 and served until the autumn of 1970.
He was installed as the Archbishop of Boston on Oct. 7, 1970 and elevated to cardinal on March 5, 1973. He died on Sept. 17, 1983 of coronary arrest at the age of 67, a day after undergoing emergency heart surgery, according to his obituary by the Associated Press.
As Bishop of Brownsville, he added 18 new parishes and approved the construction of La Merced Homes in Mercedes and El Rosario Homes in Mission — two scattered-site housing projects sponsored by the Diocese of Brownsville. Residents began moving into the three-and-four bedroom brick homes in May 1969.
When he arrived in the Rio Grande Valley, farm workers were threatening a strike and the new bishop quickly supported the demands of Mexican-American migrant workers, according to the Associated Press.
At times, he would travel with the migrant workers because, ‘’I want to be with the people who need me,” and for the four years he was head of the Diocese of Brownsville, he spent Christmas and Easter in jails visiting with prisoners and eating prison food.
The second Bishop of Brownsville was described by the Associated Press as, “a stern administrator,” but “comfortable with the people of his diocese. As the Valley was recovering from Hurricane Beulah in 1967, he opened his home to 11 families and also took in many dogs that were lost and abandoned in the storm.
A native of the Azores, an island chain off the coast of Portugal, Cardinal Medeiros was born Oct. 6, 1915, in the village of Arrifes on St. Michael Island. Unable to speak English, he came to the United States when he was 16. He took a job sweeping floors in a textile plant in Fall River, Mass. for 62 cents a day.
After graduating from high school, he studied for the priesthood at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and was ordained a priest for service in the Diocese of Fall River on June 15, 1946.
Bishop Medeiros' motto: "Adveniat regnum tuum" (thy Kingdom come)
Story by The Valley Catholic
Catholic Diocese of Brownsville 50th Anniversary 1910 University Blvd. Brownsville, TX 78520 Phone: (956) 542-2501
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