Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 12, 2007
St. Cecilia, patron of music, converted her husband, Valerian
This well-to-do Christian became a Roman martyr
St. Cecilia – November 22
By TED FITZGERALD
- WCR photo by Ted Fitzgerald
A statue of St. Cecilia is ensconced in the wall above the altar in her church.
Ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods by a tribunal, Cecilia refused, converted some of her accusers and survived a sentence of suffocation. Attempts to behead the saint were bungled and she survived a further three days in agony. Pope Urban had a church built on the site of her martyrdom.
How this early martyr became associated with sacred music is unclear. It is said that on her wedding day, enraptured by organ music, she prayed for the strength to maintain her faith. Cecilia is remembered in a number of classical compositions and is often portrayed in art at an organ or holding a lute.
Not far from the cathedral, between S. Presa and S. St. Mary's bus routes on Whittier Street, an attractive parish church dedicated to the musical saint serves more than 1,000 families.
Visitors to the parish office are welcomed by helpful secretary Ann Gilliland and receptionist Alice Trevino who will enlist knowledgeable George Inouye to explain to strangers all the features of his beloved church. They will find out that St. Cecilia's was organized in 1919 with first pastor Father M.S. Garriga and for awhile Mass was celebrated in a converted house.
A proper church was dedicated on the patron's feast day in 1921, but it was eventually outgrown and replaced by the present modern sanctuary. The first shepherd, now returned as Bishop Garriga of Corpus Christi, consecrated this in 1950.
Parishioners are particularly pleased with their modern parochial school which has evolved over the year, hand-in-hand, with the church. Grades K to 8 are offered and children who attend public schools are able to receive religious instruction twice a week at St. Cecilia's.
Careful property purchases over the years have enabled the consolidation of Catholic institutions into a compact area which now includes, in addition to the church and school, a parish hall, rectory and convent for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.
Inside, St. Cecilia's is a thoroughly modern church, lit by tall south-facing windows. The exterior red brick finish is replicated on the sanctuary walls. A few images of the parish patron are in evidence, particularly a statue above the crucifix behind the main altar which portrays the saint holding a Pan flute.
Daily morning Masses and Eucharistic Adoration are well attended here, as are the four weekend eucharistic celebrations, one in Spanish.
In addition to their extensive parochial duties, clergy from St. Cecilia's also serve the people of the historic Mission Conception.
For some time, a tradition has existed in the parish to invite all music ministers in the archdiocese to attend a special blessing and intercession of the patroness of music after all Masses on the first Sunday of each month at San Antonio's active Church of St. Cecilia.
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