SAN ANTONIO – The Alamo City has a rich and unique history, from the world-famous Alamo to the five beautiful Spanish colonial missions. Now, a new center aims to link all five San Antonio missions and serve as a starting point for a curated experience that also encompasses Europe.
Father Carlos Velasquez, the rector of the San Fernando Cathedral, said there has been an increase in people visiting the missions. He says 1.3 million people toured the missions last year, but something was missing.
“There wasn’t a place for the pilgrims to take in a center where they could easily access the different missions and to tell the story in one place,” said Velasquez.
He said that’s why the Archdiocese of San Antonio created El Camino de San Antonio Missions pilgrimage center.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller said it was a project made possible through the capital campaign of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
“We raised for hundreds of projects — $60 million — and that was including the time of the pandemic. So we are blessed by that,” said Garcia-Siller.
Whether you’re a local looking to learn more about your city or a tourist visiting San Antonio for the first time, El Camino de San Antonio Missions is a one-stop shop for an educational and spiritual experience.
“What we’re doing is opening our doors to San Antonio, to our pilgrims and other visitors who come to experience the missions, not only as rich cultural places and historic places but also of a deep faith. Places of deep faith where people can go kind of disentangle from their daily lives and experience something sacred,” said Rebecca Simmons, director of El Camino de San Antonio Missions.
Archbishop Garcia-Siller said a pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place.
El Camino de San Antonio Missions is in partnership with Spain’s El Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
Pilgrims can receive credit toward both routes on their pilgrimage passport, obtaining stamps from each mission church and the cathedral.
“Same thing for the people in Spain that are going through that walk. They can get it stamped, and then they can go ahead and finish the walk here. So, it’s a beautiful program. It’s an international experience for those that want to have a conversion of hearts,” said Father Velasquez.
The center is located at 263 Felisa Street in San Antonio.
For more information, visit https://archsa.org/caminosanantonio/.