Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 67
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RANCHO BUENA VISTA
VISITS OF THE MISSIONARIES
Ranch people of the early days were generally inclined to-
ward a virile piety. Throughout south Texas, missionary priests
visited the ranches at least once a year. Their task was not a
difficult one, as far as religious instruction was concerned, for
every vaquero, shepherd, sheepshearer, ranch owner, ranch
woman and child knew the basic tenets of the Catholic religion,
could recite the prayers, sing the hymns, and take an intelligent
interest in the services.
At Buena Vista, the visit of Father Antonio Serra was an
occurrence of great importance. Weddings were performed,
baptism administered, Mass celebrated, the sick visited, and
consolation given to the bereaved. After the erection of the
schoolhouse, the services were held there.
Days before the missionary was due to arrive, all the women
of the surrounding ranches had made preparations for the great
day. The visit of the missionary was of social interest as well as
of religious significance. The occasion was one for feasting and
gayety. The Guerra ranch was always the meeting place for
the people, because of its central location and the fact that the
stone schoolhouse was the best available place in which to hold
A day or two before the missionary's arrival, the women
gathered to help with the preparations. The best room, the best
bed, the best kitchen utensils, and the best food were set apart
for the missionary. Everything was bustle and hurry, for not
only was the missionary to be fed and housed, but the people
from all the nearby ranches were to be entertained. Families
arrived in wagons, on horseback, in buggies, or on foot to be
present when the missionary arrived. They were fed and camped
in the ranch enclosure.
After the padre had been welcomed, he first heard confes-
sions. Then Mass was celebrated. During Mass all except the very
young children received the Eucharist. This morning service,
which invariably included a sermon, was lengthy. Nor was the
padre able to take much rest during the day. Always there were
infants to be baptized, children and adults to be catechized, and,
of course, it would have been most unusual if no young couples
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/75/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.