Welcome to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. We know that the Lord has moved you in the right direction. We hope that you feel right at home in our parish. If you want to become a member, please register by following the registration link for either language below. If you are looking for a place to attend Mass, follow the link to find us on a map. Thank you for visiting us!
Our Mission Statement
We, the parish family of St. Francis of Assisi, formed in 1980, are gifted with wisdom, productivity and vitality. We are a Sacramental people journeying toward our Christian mission to know, love and serve Christ. To better know, love and serve Christ, we strive to emulate our patron, St. Francis of Assisi, by focusing our greater concern on the building of our people, giving our time, talent and treasures in reaching out to others, and promoting peace and harmony within God’s creation. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will continue to gather as community to grow in and strengthen our spirituality.
Fr. Tony Vilano | Pastor
Fr. Tomichan Moonnanappillil, MSFS | Parochial Vicar
Sister Rose Kruppa, CDP | Pastoral Associate
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Larry Perry | Director of Faith Formation
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Monica Harness | Director of Youth Ministry
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Miriam Flores | Elementary Faith Formation Coordinator
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Don Bernhard | Director of Music Ministry
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Vonique R. Galdamez | Bookkeeper
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Kenneth Caruthers | Director of Communication
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Natalie Hernandez | Administrative Assistant
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Bianca Martinez | Administrative Assistant
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Charles Samuel | Facilities Manager
In December of 1979, Archbishop Patrick Flores authorized the formation of St. Francis of Assisi Parish. One hundred people living in the new parish boundaries celebrated their community’s first Mass at Holy Spirit Catholic Church. Over the next four years, Masses were celebrated in a variety of locations and education classes took place in parishioners’ homes.
In 1983, construction on a permanent church building began, and Ash Wednesday of the following year, pastor Fr. Robert (Bob) Kownacki and parishioners celebrated their first liturgy in the new sanctuary (now Henke Hall). During this decade, the parish grew in size, members planned and led through Pastoral Council, and Richard McGarry and Tom Franklin served as permanent deacons. RCIA, choir, ministry to shut-ins, engaged couple direction and the RENEW program began during this time.
By 1991, when Fr. James Henke was named pastor, St. Francis of Assisi Parish’s vibrant, spiritual identity was apparent. That year, the first fall picnic was held, St. Vincent de Paul Ministry formed, women hosted their first ACTS retreat and small church communities (SCCs) began meeting. 1993 and 1994 brought an administration building, Parish Hall, education building and athletic fields. Men’s ACTS retreats, Silver Star meetings, and the Women’s Council luncheon and style show began. Parishioners continued to serve each other and the broader community through ministries including Boy Scouts, CYO, Habitat for Humanity, Men’s Club and Teen ACTS. In 1997, Sr. Frances Briseno joined St. Francis Parish as it first Pastoral Associate.
Mass attendance having reached 1,800, the parish constructed and dedicated a new worship space in October of 2001. With parishioners’ input, the building was intentionally designed as a “church in the round,” to reflect the communal aspect of Catholic liturgy. The octagonal shapes incorporated throughout the worship space remind us of the eighth day—eternity. Under Fr. Jim’s and Sr. Frances’s leadership, parishioners participated actively in liturgies and weaved their faith into their daily lives. Youth at St. Francis Parish served others and were served through programs such as Teen ACTS, mission trip, Life Teen, Vacation Bible School and the Kids Day Out program.
In 2009, our parish said farewell to Sr. Frances, and Sr. Rose Kruppa became the new pastoral associate. The San Damiano Building was completed, providing extra meeting space for parish youth meetings, ACTS, team formation, Bible study and sacramental preparation classes. On January 30, 2010, St. Francis of Assisi celebrated its 30th anniversary with a theme “Pearl of Great Price” reflecting the parish’s hospitality and generosity.
Upon Fr. Jim’s retirement in June 2010, Fr. Larry Christian became pastor. Under his leadership and true to the spirit of its patron saint and its founders, St. Francis of Assisi Parish continued to exhibit Catholic generosity, hospitality and stewardship with its own unique style. Parish priorities included a focus on young adults and young families, spiritual growth, and formation as Christ’s disciples in all areas of our lives. St. Francis started a Young Adult Ministry in early 2016, providing adults in their twenties and thirties a way to come together to participate and serve in the life and ministry of the parish community as well as our greater San Antonio community.
When Fr. Larry received a new assignment in 2016, Fr. Tony Vilano became pastor in June. Fr. Tony and parishioners started a new Sunday Mass at 1:30 pm in Spanish, and the parish also added an additional Mass on Fridays at noon. Under the leadership of Fr. Tony and our Finance Council, we paid off our parish debt. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, Fr. Tony and the parish staff worked together to keep the community spirit of St. Francis alive and thriving through live streaming, Zoom meetings, and other creative methods that fostered engagement. St. Francis continues to journey toward our Christian mission to know, love and serve Christ as the story of the parish continues.
Born in 1182 and named after John the Baptist by his mother, Giovanni Bernardone was renamed Francesco by his father. Naturally charismatic, Francis enjoyed an easy life with most of his whims satisfied and, as a youth, he often joined in wild parties with his peers. Hoping to gain prestige as a knight, he donned a gold suit of armor, mounted a horse and joined the 4th crusade. Not far from Assisi, he had a dream in which God asked him to return home. When Francis complied, he was laughed at by his peers, considered a coward by the townspeople and criticized by his father for wasting his money on an unused suit of armor.
Francis worked with his father, gradually gave up his frivolous ways and began to spend more time in prayer. During this time, he encountered a leper in the countryside. Although repelled by the man’s appearance and smell, he kissed the leper and considered this a test from God which he had passed. While praying in the church at San Damiano one day, Francis heard Christ say, “Francis, repair my church.” Interpreting this to mean the building in which he was praying, Francis impulsively sold some of his father’s property to obtain money for the church building’s repairs. His father demanded that Francis return the money and renounce his inheritance. Francis returned the money, removed his clothes and renounced his father, proclaiming, “Hitherto I have called you my father on earth; henceforth I desire to say only, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven’.”
This was a turning point for Francis. He begged for stones, rebuilt the church at San Damiano with his own hands and began to preach penance, brotherly love and peace. He worked only for necessities and begged when necessary, as he considered material possessions a burden and experienced true freedom in rejecting them. People from many walks of life were inspired to join Francis; they believed his radical lifestyle of poverty reflected Jesus’ values, unlike the wealthy church they now considered decadent. Wanting some direction for his companions, Francis named his brethren the Friars Minor and formed a “rule” based on Christ’s teachings: to renounce all belongings, give to the poor and take up the Cross daily. Mixed accounts of his attempt to gain papal approval of his “first rule” indicate he left Rome with a verbal sanction and clerical (but not ordained) status. In 1212, Clare, a young Assisi heiress, joined Francis. He eventually established Clare and several other maidens in a dwelling at St. Damian’s which became the first monastery of these female followers of Francis, now referred to as the Poor Clares.
In keeping with his teachings on brotherly love and peace, Francis travelled to Syria during the 5th crusade, where he visited the region’s Muslim leader. It’s believed he and the sultan recognized the similarities of their religions and appreciated and respected each other as brothers; some Christian scholars agree the revised rule St. Francis wrote for the Friars Minor in 1221 was influenced by his experience in Syria. In 1224, during a fast in La Verna, Francis received stigmata on his side, hands and feet, became blind and experienced increasing pain. His Canticle of the Sun, written during his suffering and his last visit with St. Clare, poetically reflects Francis’s love for nature and his recognition of the divine in all of creation. At age 44, Francis died on October 3, 1226. He was canonized only two years later, on July 16, 1228, by Pope Gregory IX.
When the newest building on campus was constructed, it was dedicated as the San Damiano Building, named after the church where St. Francis was praying when he heard a message from the Lord providing his future mission in life. (See St. Francis’s biography on page 7 of this guidebook.) The San Damiano cross is a familiar image at St. Francis of Assisi Parish and a brief explanation of this icon follows.
The San Damiano Cross is the one St. Francis was praying before when he received the commission from the Lord to rebuild the Church. The original cross presently hangs in Santa Chiarra (St.Clare) Church in Assisi, Italy. All Franciscans cherish his cross as the symbol of their mission from God. The cross is called an icon cross because it contains images of people who have a part in the meaning of the cross. The tradition of such crosses began in the Eastern Church and was transported by Serbian monks to the Umbria district of Italy.
The San Damiano Icon is then a personal encounter with the transfigured Christ – God made man. The Crucifix contains the story of the death, resurrection and ascension into glory. It expresses the total and universal Paschal Mystery of Christ. It invites us all to take part in it with a lively and lived faith, just as St Francis did. Christ’s saving death is shown in John’s Gospel in its serene majesty, and this Crucifix portrays this in picture form. It is not surprising that Saint Francis was attracted to this Icon and that the inspiration for his life came from this Christ who spoke to him “Go repair my Church …”
A Brief Explanation by Fr. Michael Scanlon, T.O.R., Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Province, USA
For more information, visit the website from which this explanation came:
Bill Thorpe, Chair
Amanda Wetegrove Romine
Deacon Jim Hewson
Fr. Tony Vilano
Sr. Rose Kruppa
John Trusela, Chair
Fr. Tony Vilano
Sr. Rose Kruppa