Mission San Antonio is another of the missions that I’ve been by who knows how many times, but always on my way somewhere else so never stopped. It’s a ways off the highway as well, through Fort Hunter Liggett, additional disincentives to make the side trip from 101. However I was recently on a bike trip in the area, and made a point of getting to the Mission.
I’m very glad that I did. It’s wonderful, and would definitely be worth the excursion off the highway if you have the time.
It’s the first Mission I’ve been to that has not been built up all around, so it looks and feels much like it must have back at the time of founding and initial operation.
Also it is still operating as a Catholic church. The congregation is dispersed over a fairly large area, and aging, but apparently they have a core of twenty-ish folks that attend Mass every Sunday. Special observances for holidays and Feast Days generate a full house.
The church also operates a retreat center. By reservation you can stay at the Mission for personal spiritual or educational study.
There’s a great gift shop, they have a program where artists donate or consign works to help support the Mission. There is a wide variety of works, and it has allowed them to expand the stock of more standard gift shop offerings. I was thinking it might be good to have a Saint Christopher medal, but wasn’t able to find one that I liked.
The woman working at the gift shop was a wealth of information, including the fact that the State will be requiring them to retrofit since the building is unreinforced masonry. Regardless of the fact that it has not fallen down in all these years since it was built and does not seem to be in danger of doing so. $15 million price tag, apparently, and not that the State has a bunch of spare money for historical preservation, but the fact that the Mission is still an operational church complicates getting certain fundings.
As we were getting ready to leave there was a girl and her parents arriving. She looked about the right age, yep, going to be a fourth grader, doing the Missions in school. They had come from Santa Clarita. I know my nephew studied the Missions that year, and have heard about other people’s kids getting it as well. I also went through the California school system but don’t remember studying the Missions.