Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » “Friiiiday, Friiiiiday, Friiiiiday”


I only know his voice

I remember well his tone and the sound echoes in my mind, it is Mr. Kemper Williams announcing the St. Joseph Flyers game. Tonight, the Blue and White take on TMI, one of the most historic schools in Texas which was founded in 1893. General Douglas MacArthur went to school at TMI and graduated valedictorian. STJ, however, is older than this school by 25 years.

Victoria becomes Texas

A great Texas history debate is what city is most historical, Victoria or San Antonio? Of course, many claim San Antonio with its Alamo, missions, and San Fernando Cathedral (oldest Catholic parish in Texas) also known as, Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe, and so connected with Victoria’s early Our Lady of Guadalupe later named St. Mary’s. Remember Victoria is a short name for her first Spanish colonist name “Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Jesus Victoria.” So, Victoria and San Antonio both reference Our Lady of Guadalupe even if indirectly. The story of Our Lady of Candelaria is here. Notice she is a Black Madonna which I always find quite comforting that Our Lady appears to a people or culture, not a race. Sorry for the side note.

Victoria would be huge if not for cholera

“Don Martín De León after establishing his colony immediately made plans for the construction of his magnificent cathedral rivaling the greatest churches in Mexico. He became a victim of the terrible disease cholera and died in the year of 1833” which stopped short his dream. Can you imagine Victoria having this beautiful cathedral that competes in beauty with those in Mexico? I suspect, if not for cholera, Victoria and San Antonio would be the two large cities of South Texas. In 1836, San Fernando was still a parish, though a very old one, but had De Leon completed a huge cathedral within a few years of his death, I suspect history may have turned out a little different. Santa Anna may have even hung that infamous sign “no quarter” closer to Victoria and I would have seen “La Bahia” rather than “The Alamo.” Like I said, interesting scenario.

Closing the gaps

And so we have Nazareth Academy (girl’s school) and St. Joseph Institute (boy’s school) founded through Fr. Gardet’s actions in 1866 and 1868. Fr. Gardet’s tombstone is in St. Mary’s Church along the right wall as you walk towards the altar. Interesting to note, Fr. Odin landed in Lavaca Bay, at the Port of Linnville, in 1840 to help the Catholics. Fr. John Odin left a priest for the community and later became the first bishop of Texas as the bishop of Galveston which stretched to the Rio Grande. Consider Fr. Odin approaching Victoria with a magnificent cathedral-like structure and shortly after becomes the first bishop of Texas. Bishop Odin and Fr. Gardet would have known each other I suspect because it seems that Fr. Gardet was the second priest for St. Mary’s.

More gaps filled

In Victoria’s earlier days as a municipality, it was governed by a council from 1824-1828, the Council of Ten Friends, related to the Street of Ten Friends, and four alcaldes (1828-1836), which included Martin DeLeon and an Irishmen John Linn. John Linn should sound familiar to us Victorians because he was the cities first mayor. The Spanish speaking people called him “Juan.” I also found that Juan Linn was the person that President Burnet of Texas had interview Santa Anna after the successful victory San Jacinto.

Friends and Family

Enjoy them.