SAN ANTONIO – As of Sunday afternoon, Mission Concepción, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in San Antonio, closed its doors to begin a restoration project. Mission Concepción will undergo some restoration work on the dome inside the sanctuary.
Mission Concepción has been in San Antonio since 1731 and is considered to be the best preserved Spanish colonial structure in the nation, according to its website. In order to continue its long standing history, the church will undergo construction for safety reasons.
Deacon Ray Jiménez arrived early Sunday morning to open the doors for the first mass of the decade at Mission Concepción, but also the last for quite some time.
“It’s going to be shut down for a few months,” Jiménez said. “They’re looking to restore the base of the dome. We’ve seen some water leakage. Also the weight of the dome itself has been an issue, so they’re going to stabilize it."
The project is expected to wrap up in early April in time for one of the biggest Catholic celebrations.
“We would love to have a big Easter Mass, and we’re hoping it will be open. That’s the goal,” Jiménez said.
John Rodríguez is a parishioner, usher and the walking historian at Mission Concepción.
“My two boys, grown sons, were baptized here,” Rodríguez said. “My wife and I have have been coming here for 49 years."
Rodríguez and his wife, Nelly, live a block away from this Catholic church and frequent it often, including on weekdays.
“The first place I visit is with La Virgen de Guadalupe to give thanks that I’m able to be here,” Rodríguez said. “We don’t know how many more years or days I’ll be able to do that.”
Rodríguez only knows he won’t be able to visit their family’s beloved home parish for a few months but is aware it’s for the greater good.
“When they do their restoration, hopefully it’s going to preserve it for many, many more years for others to come (visit) after us,” Rodríguez said.
Sunday service for hundreds of parishioners will be affected for the next several months, but Mission Concepción also wants to preserve their close-knit community therefore, will relocate just a few blocks away to Blessed Sacrament Academy Chapel.
According to Jiménez, Mission Concepción expects to open their doors to the Catholic community and tourists on April 8 of this year.