New Documents on Father Jose Mariano Reyes
EDITED AND TRANSLATED BY BENEDICT LEUTENEGGER, O.F.M.*
FATHER JOSE MARIANO REYES BELONGED TO THE PROVINCE OF THE
Holy Gospel, the oldest ecclesiastical province in Mexico with
beginnings as far back as 1524. He became a member of the Apostolic
College of Zacatecas in October, 1780.1 On September 5, 1782, Father
Reyes and Father Jos6 Mariano Garcia were selected for the Texas
missions as "muy aptos."' In April, 1785, Father Reyes wanted to
establish a mission among the Orcoquisac Indians and took "some
things" from the "mission" in Nacogdoches." He soon heard from his
college in Zacatecas and was told that he should not establish a mission
without the advice of others; he should not give up the project but
should act prudently and not rashly (atropelladamente), and the cows
*Father Leutenegger, a member of the Academy of American Franciscan History, is
the translator of Life of Fray Antonio Margil, O.F.M., by Eduardo Enrique Rios. The
four letters translated and edited below are in the Bexar Archives (Archives, University
of Texas Library, Austin).
'Libro Segundo de Decretos, fol. 51, f and v (Archivo del Colegio de Guadalupe,
Zacatecas, Mexico). The Apostolic College of Nuestra Sefiora de Guadalupe de Zacatecas
was founded in 1707 by Father Antonio Margil. The decree for the foundation is dated
in Madrid, January 27, 1704. Jos6 Antonio Alcocer, Bosquejo de la Historia del Colegio
de Nuestra Seiora de Guadalupe y sus Misiones, aio de 2788, edited by Rafael Cervantes
(Mexico, 1958), 67-69.
The first mission college or apostolic institute of Mexico was the College of Santa Cruz
de Quer6taro, which was founded in 1683 "to conduct missions on the frontier." Eduardo
Enrique Rios, Life of Fray Antonio Margil, O.F.M., translated and revised by Benedict
Leutenegger (Washington, 1959), xii. The mission colleges de propaganda fide were
independent institutions governed by a superior, a vicar, and four counselors. The col-
leges, in turn, were supervised by a comisario general, who exercised authority in all of
New Spain; he in turn was subject to the Father General in Rome. Herbert E. Bolton,
Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century (New York, 1962 edition), 12.
2Libro Segundo de Decretos, fol. 69, f and v.
8The Mission of Nuestra Sefiora de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches, founded in East
Texas in 1716, was abandoned in 1778 when the Spanish withdrew their forces from
East Texas after acquiring Louisiana from the French. In 1774 a group of the former
residents of East Texas founded the settlement of Nuestra Sefiora del Pilar de Bucareli
on the Trinity River. When Bucareli was deserted in 1779, however, the settlers moved
back to Nacogdoches. Carlos E. Castafieda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, z5zg-z936
(7 vols.; Austin, 1986-1958), II, 59-60, IV, 303, 384. This new settlement at Nacogdoches
was considered by church officials to be a mission because the two fathers who were
stationed there served not only as pastors of the colonists, but "principally for the
purpose of bringing about the reduction of the Orcoquisac, Vidai, Texas, and the other
tribes of that region." J. Autrey Dabbs (trans.), "The Texas Missions in 1785," Prelim-
inary Studies of the Texas Catholic Historical Society, III (January, 1940), 14.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/. Accessed February 26, 2015.