Visits to Mission Churches in El Paso by Chris

Over 30 years ago, my sister Sue and I were blessed to be able to go out to Arizona to visit our grandparents on our father's side.  Our grandfather spoiled us on that trip and I recall the details like it was yesterday.  We made a side trip to visit my Uncle Ed in California.  Along the way, our grandpa sprang a surprise on us and said that we are stopping by to visit the old mission church in San Juan Capistrano.  I had no idea when I was 12 why we were going there but I loved the place.  I remember taking my old SLR 35mm camera that used actual film and I had some really low ISO film and a polarizing filter and the pictures from that place turned out amazingly sweet (thank you, Jesus!).  The visit really blessed me and I look back on it now as one of the many ways which the Lord was preparing me for a life in missions.
This is similar to a photo that I would have taken when I was 12 with my polarizing filter!!!

During our time in El Paso, we learned that there was a scenic byway called the "El Paso Mission Trail".  Our dear friend that delivered food with us each week in Juarez at the food bank, lived by these mission churches and offered to bring us along on a personally guided tour.  How could we refuse such a generous offer?  So one Friday afternoon, after we had returned from the food bank in Juarez, we hopped on the trail and were very blessed to be able to visit these historic churches.  We visited Ysleta mission first, which is the church our friend was married in 59 years ago!  This church was constructed in 1682:

Ysleta Mission is the oldest continuously active parish in Texas....since 1682!!!!

Katelyn praying inside of Ysleta mission
Here we are with our friend on the tour of Ysleta!
While Karen and Katelyn were in the church praying, a woman came in and sat down and started sobbing.  Karen felt called to go over to her to see if she was OK.  Karen then proceeded to minister to this woman for the next 30 minutes or so and in the end, wound up giving her the shirt off her back.

Our next stop was Socorro mission, which has the honor of being the 2nd oldest mission church in Texas, after Ysleta.  You can see a statue of St. Michael the archangel down below on the left side of the altar.  The story of that statue is that is was meant for another church but when it arrived in Socorro, the wagon would not move any further due to the statue's weight multiplying.  The party that was charged with transporting the statue took this as a sign from God that the statue was meant for this mission church and there it has stayed.
Socorro mission, built in 1691, 2nd oldest mission in Texas
I love the banners that they had for the upcoming Sunday's gospel in both English and Spanish
Our last stop on the mission trail was to the San Elizario Presidio chapel.  This church was built much later in 1789 and the current chapel was rebuilt in 1877.  All three of these churches are still used to celebrate mass each week (each day in Socorro) as well as being favorite spots for local weddings.
Karen and I on the steps of San Elizario
We all really enjoyed the afternoon visiting the El Paso Mission Trail and we definitely felt close to the missionaries that started these missions 337 years ago and it made us think of the chapels we have seen built in our time in missions.  Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

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Thank you and God Bless!
In Him, Chris

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