Saul Alinsky And His Connection To San Antonio, Texas

Being a Native San Antonian, I have to admit that I love my hometown, but maybe it is only the memory I love. Having attended Catholic schools from K thru 12th grade, I am very well aware of the importance the church places on giving to the poor. Missionary nuns from Belgium at St. John Berchman taught me during my elementary school years and the Sisters of Diving Providence taught at the high school where I attended. That pretty much should have made a Socialist out of me, according to some. I was one of the founding members of St. Matthews Catholic Church in the North Side of San Antonio, thus cementing my life as a Catholic. I mention these schools and St. Matthews because you will read in the articles I reference about the missionary nuns from Belgium and about a divine providence sister, Christine Stevens.

I have witnessed so many changes since my childhood that I really don’t recognize my beloved city anymore. Events have come and gone and San Antonio still stands as a testament to the people who have loved and cared for its survival, but at what costs? From afar I see the inner deterioration and decay prevalent today.

There are a multitude of stories to tell just from my own experiences, but for the sale of brevity, I will address only the connection of San Antonio and Saul Alinsky and the Catholic Church. Yes, we all know about Alinsky and his Rules for Radicals. We also know that he dedicated his book to Lucifer using these words.

Lest we forget at least and over the shoulder acknowledgement to the first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins – or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom-Lucifer.
Saul Alinsky

We also have an insight of his own morality described in a Playboy interview.

PLAYBOY: Having accepted your own mortality, do you believe in any kind of afterlife?

ALINSKY: Sometimes it seems to me that the question people should ask is not “is there life after death” but “is there life after birth?” I don’t know whether there’s anything after this or not. I haven’t seen the evidence one way or the other, and I don’t think anybody else has either. But I do know that man’s obsession with the question comes out of his stubborn refusal to his own mortality. Let’s say that if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.


ALINSKY: Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I have been with the have-nots. Over here, if you’re a have-not, you’re short of dough. If you’re a have-not in hell, you’re short a virtue. Once I get into hell, I’ll start organizing the have-nots over there.

PLAYBOY: Why them?

ALINSKY: They’re my kind of people.

We can’t fully understand the impact of what happened in San Antonio unless we know about Archbishop Robert E. Lucey and the labor unions during the period of 1960-1968. Lucey was the Archbishop of San Antonio from January 21, 1941 – May 23, 1969. He appointed Father Sherrill Smith as designated speaker for the archdiocese on matters pertaining to the unions and the Mexican working man. Lucey was determined to secure a living wage for the Mexican worker.

“The Mexican working class in San Antonio did not believe in themselves. They were afraid to make any demands to their bosses. They did not want to lose their job. It was my task, under Archbishop Lucey, to change that mentality and convince them that they could make a difference for themselves.”


Doing my research I could not find where Father Smith went to Chicago, but I did find this very telling news article dated Thursday, November 30, 1967, written by Rick Casey where Smith did encounter Alinsky at St. Mary’s University. Smith and Alinsky had a verbal exchange during Alinsky’s speech.

The Good Government League controlled San Antonio from about 1955 – 1975. It was only the North Side of San Antonio that reaped the benefits of economic growth while the West and South Sides of town were ignored. According to Robert Vasques’ article, ‘The COPS Revolution’ he explained that “in effect city officials were stealing from the poor West and South Side neighborhoods to provide funds for developers in the affluent North Side suburbs.”

Given all these circumstances, the sleepy town named San Antonio was ripe for an awakening. So during the time the GGL was up to its sordid games, Communities Organized for Public Service was doing just that, organizing. C.O.P.S. organized early in 1974 and the Catholic Church played a big part in its inception and success.

Ernie Cortes

What might not be commonly known is how Saul Alinsky is connected to San Antonio. And herein lies the unintended consequences. There are many players contributing to this story, but the common denominator is Ernie Cortes. Cortes is the charismatic Hispanic whose influence changed San Antonio forever. It was Cortes who went to Chicago to learn at the Saul Alinsky Institute at the industrial Areas Foundation. It was Cortes who founded C.O.P.S. in 1974 with money donated by various churches and individuals from San Antonio. If you are interested you can read an interview with Cortes at this link.

Ernie Cortes is directly responsible for introducing Alinsky techniques to San Antonio through Father Edmundo Rodriguez, a Jesuit priest. Father Rodriguez worked at Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the oldest Catholic churches in San Antonio and helped found C.O.P.S. Father Rodriguez was not new to the issues to the Mexican worker or the plight of the poor. I have enclosed videos of Father Rodriguez explaining the situation in San Antonio when he arrived. There is one video when he went to St. Matthew’s to speak which I find interesting because it triggers memories about my days at St. Matthew’s.

There were other Catholic churches in the beginning, and there are still to this day priests who support C.O.P. S. After Lucey came Archbishop Francis Furey, May 23, 1969 – April 23, 1979, he was a staunch supporter of the death penalty and C.O.P.S. He was instrumental in bringing Archbishop Patrick Flores to San Antonio. Furey felt that the San Antonio community needed a Hispanic Archbishop to better understand the people. Archbishop Patrick Flores, August 23, 1979 – December 29, 2004, helped establish PADRES, Priests associated for Religious, Education and Social Rights and supported C.O.P.S. These Archbishops were not necessarily interested in the Socialist part but the methods used to organize. Organization was an essential tool to help the poor and the Mexican in the San Antonio and other heavily populated Mexican areas.

The Mexican American Experience: An Encyclopedia - Page 104

Archbishop Jose Gomez, December 29, 2004 to 2010 is presently the Archbishop of Los Angeles. It was during his tenure that the chancery’s Justice and Peace Commission was disbanded because of its failure to oppose same sex marriage as a constitutional state amendment. It was also during this time that he vehemently opposed Hillary Clinton as a speaker at St. Mary’s University. I could not find any connection with C.O.P.S. The present Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller was appointed on October 14, 2010. He has resurrected the Life, Justice and Peace Commission in the archdiocese.

When C.O.P.S. was first conceived it was a vision for economic change and helping the poor Mexican worker but the unintended consequences are morally decaying San Antonio. Today C.O.P.S. is heavily tied to the Democrat Party. Some priests in San Antonio and surrounding areas support C.O.P.S. Because the Catholic Church has given life and refuge to C.O.P.S. in the past, entrenchment of the Democrat Party exists. Democrats guard their turf like wild dogs. They refuse to give up the power and control they have over San Antonio. The truth of the matter is that Democrats want Texas and are willing to fight for our state.

The Democrats are the party of pro choice, same sex marriage and divisiveness contrary to the doctrine of the Catholic faith. Pope Francis is not going to capitulate on any of these issues. Since his election there have been enough articles written whether he believes in Liberation Theology or not. He does not believe that Liberation Theology belongs in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Democrats guard their turf like wild dogs. They refuse to give up the power and control over San Antonio and other parts of Texas. The truth of the matter is that Democrats want Texas and are willing to work and fight for our state. ‘Battleground Texas’ is currently working in Texas to turn our Red State into a Blue State. Battleground Texas is certainly going to use the Hispanics to join them in their destructive agenda by using their illusionary message of inclusion. Cortes under the guise of elevating the Hispanic has undermined the very essence of the Mexican American family values. Times have changed and times are changing. It is time to welcome our fellow Hispanic Texans to our conservative Republican Party, which is more in keeping with Hispanic family values.

This is part I of a series of III

COPS/Metro is a broad-based organization affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). It was formed in 1974 to develop the capacity of San Antonio’s disenfranchised to participate fully as citizens in the life of the community and to have a voice in the public decision-making that affects their lives. It succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. Through COPS/Metro, ordinary citizens learned the skills of public life and built power to leverage over $1 billion in public projects to improve drainage, streets, housing, education, health care and job training.
Current dues-paying member institutions include:
American Federation of Teachers
Colonial Hills United Methodist
Divine Providence
Divine Redeemer Presbyterian
El Divino Salvador United Methodist
First Unitarian Universalist
Holy Family
Holy Redeemer
Holy Rosary
Immaculate Conception
Intercongregational Leadership of San Antonio
Macedonia Baptist Church
Our Lady of Guadalupe-Helotes
Sacred Heart
San Antonio Alliance
San Antonio Mennonite Church
Sisters of the Holy Spirit
St. Agnes
St. Benedict
St. Bonaventure
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Gabriel
St. John Baptist
St. Leo
St. Leonard
St. Margaret Mary
St. Mark the Evangelist
St. Mary Magdalen
St. Philip of Jesus
St. Timothy
Westlawn United Methodist

Texas Monthly - Dec 1977 - Page 234 - Google Books Result

S.A. to Selma, priest answered 'calls for protecting the weak' “Some called him a socialist. Some called him a communist. He was a pain in the butt for a lot of people, but he was not a guy looking for publicity or who organized people to do what he was doing. He just went and did it,” said Monsignor Larry Stuebben, a seminary classmate and longtime friend who gave the homily at Smith's funeral earlier this week.




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