In the death of Archbishop Patricio Flores we have witnessed the passing of one of the giants of the Church, not only in Texas, but in the United States. As the first Mexican American named a bishop in 1970 he broke a very important ‘glass ceiling’ among the leadership of the Church. And, then Bishop Flores assumed that role with an unassuming boldness and contagious joy. He embraced the people he served no matter their cultural background and they loved him. But for the long overlooked Latino community he was more than an admired Church leader, he was their father and brother and a sign of a heritage of which they could be very proud.
For me as a priest of the Diocese of Dallas he was one who helped reveal to me the beauty and richness of Hispanic culture. He also showed me that to be a leader in the Church did not require one to be above the people he served. To be a leader in the Church is to be one with the people one serves, especially with those who are considered the least among us.
Archbishop Flores will be remembered as the Archbishop of San Antonio but the members of the Church of El Paso will always remember that prior to his service there he was our bishop. For 15 months, from May of 1978 until August of 1979, he was the Ordinary of this diocese and many still remember him fondly.
God clearly worked in the life of Archbishop Flores. As he takes his rightful place in Texas history we will pray that the Lord, whom he so loved, will now take him safely home.
Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, DD
Bishop of El Paso