Mexican tapestery pattern

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Funded in part by a grant from TexTreasures and by the UT Arlington Library.

Roberto Peña


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(72 pages)

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Biography:

Born 1923 in Estacion Aldamos, Nuevo Leon, and raised in Harlingen, Texas, Mr. Peña was the first Mexican American missionary oblate priest in Texas in one hundred years at the time of his appointment. In addition to performing parish work (beginning with his first appointment in 1956) he helped organize Catholic Mexican American priests within the Padres Asociados para los Derechos Religiosos, Educativos, y Sociales (PADRES) organization.

Interview Summary:

Peña talks about his work in South Texas as an oblate in the Catholic Church and gives an explanation of the Oblates organization and a brief history of its establishment in South Texas. He elaborates upon his decision to go into the priesthood and recounts his experiences in seminary school at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. Peña tells about his interest in international law and how he reconciled that interest with the priesthood in that both are concerned with social justice. As a youth he observed social injustices done to Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants and vowed to devote his life and ministry to eliminate those injustices. He details his political involvement with Mexican American protest movements in Texas during the 1960s and 1970s and explains to what extent his activities were governed by Church rules (which permitted him to be only a passive observer and to perform only church-related rituals at protest sites). Peña describes the events and key players among the clergy leading to the formation of the Padres Asociados para los Derechos Religiosos, Educativos, y Sociales (PADRES) organization in San Antonio, Texas, in 1969.

Locations of residence or activity:

Del Rio

Interview Date:

1/13/1998