The Catholic Church - La Gloria Community - Duval County

The following story was told to me by my aunt, Paulita V. Gonzalez. It is about the original Catholic Church at the ranch settlement called La Gloria in southern Duval County and now known as Rios.

The Catholic Church in the ranch settlement of La Gloria was built before or just about 1900 by the area ranchers. The French priest, Fr. Peter Bard also known as Padre Pedro from San Diego would come down about once a month and provide services to the area families. The families would celebrate baptisms and weddings at the church. After Padre Pedro the Franciscans from Hebbronville took over the mission church. A Padre Celestino would provide services every 22 days.

In 1937 there was going to be a wedding and Don Carlos Gonzalez had one of his workers cutting and clearing brush around the church. He told him to burn the mounds of brush when he was through.The worker, whose name was Vicente Castillo, lit the brush and a north wind prevailed and caught the wooden church on fire.

Immediately the local people came trying to put out the fire but the flames were too intense. A local rancher, Medardo Gonzalez, managed to go inside the church and save the statue of St. Francis of Assisi. The statue is the original one that is in use today at the present church. The alter and the church bell were also saved.

After the fire everyone went to church at the Santo Niño church which was by Vicente Gonzalez' ranch several miles to the north. Later folks used the local school at VeraCruz for services up until the mid 1960s when the present church was built.

After the La Gloria church burned, the local folks would chant a song about who burned it. It went like this:

"¿Quién quemó la iglesia?"
Vicente Castillo,
y la va hacer
de puro ladrillo."

Who burned the church?
Vicente Castillo,
and he's going to build it
of pure brick.

The above photo* was taken in 1934 at la Gloria, Duval County. The church that burned down is barely visible in the upper left corner. This is the only know photo of the church. The man on the left is my Grandfather, Felix M. Vera and the girl is my aunt who related the story of the church, Paulita Vera.

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