Our Lady of The Atonement Catholic Church
Founded in 1983 with the permission of Archbishop Patrick Flores, the parish of Our Lady of The Atonement Catholic Church began with a few converts from the Episcopal Church. The parish added a school, The Atonement Academy, in 1994 which has grown to include a PreK3 through Grade 12 school of over 400 students.
The current Church was expanded and a new school addition was created in 2006 to address the needs of the growing parish. The majestic complex across from the School and Church is parish’s newest addition which, when completed, will include gym, fine arts center, and meeting rooms for the community in addition to the Upper School currently occupying a part of the building.
In 2017, Pope Francis decreed the parish to be incorporated into the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter based in Houston TX. Along with 40 other Catholic parishes and communities in North America, this parish belongs to the non-geographical Catholic diocese under the direction of Bishop Steven J. Lopes.
The parish was established by a Decree of Erection, signed by Archbishop Patrick F. Flores, to take effect on 15 August 1983. It was placed under the title of Our Lady of The Atonement, a title which originated in the Episcopal Church in the 19th century, and which was brought into the Catholic Church by the Graymoor Friars and Sisters of The Atonement in 1909.
The parish was founded as a Personal Parish, under the terms of the Pastoral Provision promulgated by Blessed Pope John Paul II. The parish was established specifically for the “Anglican Common Identity usage,” and is the first parish ever to be established for this purpose.
The initial membership of the parish consisted of former Anglicans (Episcopalians), eighteen (18) in number, which included minor children. The only parish property at the time of its establishment consisted of a small house on Moana Drive, on the northeast side of San Antonio, which served as the rectory for the pastor and his family, and also as the parish office. Masses and other liturgical functions took place at the Church of San Francesco di Paola near downtown San Antonio.
Although the number of parishioners was very small at first, the pastor was able to support his family by serving concurrently as Chaplain for the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus, Auxiliary Military Chaplain at Wilford Hall Hospital, and also assisting in various parishes as needed, celebrating Mass and hearing confessions.
During the first few years of its existence, the parish continued to attract converts from Anglicanism, from other protestant denominations, and also those from no particular religious background.
From the time of its creation, members of the parish have taken an active role in pro-life work, the evangelizing of non-Catholics and fallen-away Catholics, and the care of those who are in need of practical assistance. These apostolates brought about integration with the wider Catholic community as the parish took its place within the archdiocese, leading to further growth as more people were attracted to the parish’s particular combination of active apostolates, unique liturgical style, an emphasis upon scriptural preaching, and a tradition of excellent music and hymnody.
From 1983 into 1987 the parish had no permanent location, other than the small home on Moana Drive, which served as rectory and office. Masses and other liturgical events, along with a modest religious education program, were carried out in rented facilities. Beginning at San Francesco di Paola Church, activities were moved to Mount Sacred Heart Convent Chapel on Blanco Road, which was more convenient for a majority of parishioners.
In 1985 the decision was made to search for property on which suitable facilities could be built. We were made aware of a small lot of six and a half (6½) acres already owned by the archdiocese. At a meeting with archdiocesan officials to discuss this property, it was agreed by the officials who were present that the archdiocese had no use for this property, and our parish would be allowed to build on it, in exchange for $83,000.00, which could be paid over a period of fifteen (15) years.
Our parish leadership raised the point that at that time, parishes established in the same year as ours were given property on which to build, at no charge to the parish. This was the case with the parishes of Divine Providence and St. Rose of Lima. We were told definitively that because our parish is a Personal Parish, and not one of the regular territorial parishes of the archdiocese, we would not be given that consideration. With that decision, acknowledging the different and separate status accorded to our parish, we agreed to the required amount. In fact, the parish was able to pay for the property in an abbreviated amount of time, thus saving the interest which would have accrued over the full fifteen years,and settled the debt with the archdiocese with a single payment of $54,000.00.
Construction of the initial church building began in 1986. The altar was solemnly dedicated and the church was blessed on 15 August 1987 by Archbishop Patrick Flores.