Hidden away in the Texas mesquite, a few miles south of Mission on Conway, is the tiny La Lomita chapel. Within it's silent walls are tales ripe with excitement and adventure....and legends filled with all the flame of the fabulous Southwest and her Oblate missionaries, those men of God who rode so hard and so far for Jesus Christ and His Gospel. So, saddle up, stranger, as we ride back through time, and trace the saga of the Oblate Fathers and a little chapel.
Back in 1849, in the glittering, maddening days of the God Rush, the first Oblates of Mary Immaculate landed in Texas. With sleeves rolled up, they immediately set to work to search out and care for the poor of the poor. God's forgotten people along the Rio Grande and across Texas and Mexico. They brought the loving fire of their Founder's message: 'Preach the Gospel to the poorest and most abandoned souls'. this they did - so much so that today it is largely due to the apostolic work of the Oblates that the spark of Faith has been kept glowing in the formerly spiritual arid Southwest.
About the turn of the century the Oblate Fathers had organized the Cavalry of Christ posse, and had established headquarters in Brownsville and Roma. The rendezvous spot where the priests would frequently meet was in a small hill near the Rio Grande, called by the old-timers "La Lomita" - the little Hill. It it was decided to build an outpost at that picturesque spot. A hard riding priest, Father F. Bugnard, the horseman who "never opened a fence, but took them all jumping" began to build this little Oblate mission, erected with stones hewn from the hill itself. He was aided by Father R. Pescheur and two Oblate Lay Brothers. The La Lomita chapel was on the main artery of the missions. After riding for perhaps weeks, with many nights of sleeping in the open, the tired missionary priest would arrive at this heaven.
In 1899 the another chapel, in addition to other structures, was erected south of the chapel on a little hill (la Lomita = little hill), and soon a tiny town nestled near the chapel. But when the newly-arrived railroad by-passed the Mission of La Lomita, the golden era of the little chapel faded.....The iron Horse established a station about three miles away, and out of deference to the brave mission and it's Oblate Missionaries, the new town was called Mission, Texas.
Today Mission is one of the most popular destinations for retirees from all over the USA and Canada and an excellent gateway for tours to Mexico. Come for a visit, and experience the spirit of the past, which is well preserved in this charming little chapel. The more daring might even venture closer towards the bigger chapel on the hill, which for a while housed a mental health facility and is said to be haunted!
La Lomita Historic District is located five miles south of the town of Mission off of U.S. 83 on FM 1016. La Lomita Chapel is three miles south of Expressway 83 on FM 1016. The chapel is open from dusk until dawn daily. Call 956-580-8760 for further information about the chapel. La Lomita Plaza in downtown Mission is located on Conway St. and Business 83. Call 956-585-2727 for further information about La Lomita Plaza.
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