By Lisa Morton
Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Van Horn and Our Lady of Miracles Catholic Church in Sierra Blanca recently welcomed Fr. Francisco (Frank) Hernandez as their new priest, replacing Fr. Apolinar Samboni, who was reassigned to a new parish in El Paso.
Fr. Hernandez was born in El Paso in 1984 in the central part of the city. He grew-up at Our Lady of the Light parish on Delta Street, where he felt the call of his vocation to the priesthood at the tender age of 10. He attended Clardy Elementary, Henderson Middle and Thomas Jefferson High School, graduating from Jefferson in 2003. He graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2009. In the Fall of 2010, he entered St. Charles Seminary in El Paso and was later accepted to Assumption Seminary in San Antonio. Before transferring to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston to complete his theological studies in 2016. He was ordained a Deacon at Our Lady of the Light, and as a Priest at St. Patrick’s Cathedral by Bishop Mark Seitz on May 27, 2016.
Fr. Hernandez’ pastoral assignments have included St. Pius X and San Juan Bautista as Assistant priest from 2016 to 2018, St. Mark from 2018 to 2019 as Assistant Priest, and Administrator of Santo Niño de Atocha in the central part of El Paso from 2019 to 2020 before coming to Van Horn and Sierra Blanca in September.
The Van Horn and Sierra Blanca churches have experienced a decline in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic . Van Horn has declined to about 150 families, and Sierra Blanca has declined to 50-75 families. Earlier this year, Fr. Samboni began live-streaming mass on Facebook from the Van Horn church as a precaution to keep the congregation safe from infection and to adhere to local and state guidelines to help fight the deadly virus. The coronavirus has claimed the lives of at least two parishioners and has caused great illness and suffering to others.
Fr. Hernandez will continue to livestream mass on Facebook at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church every Sunday at 8:00 a.m.in Spanish, and at 9:30 a.m.in English. Our Lady of Miracles Catholic Church in Sierra Blanca will livestream mass is at 10:30 a.m. (MST). Fr. Hernandez stated that he looks forward to sharing his priestly duties with our communities and welcomes all to mass. Due to the decline in collections and donations from attendees, Fr. Hernandez is asking that parishioners continue to support the parish by dropping off donations at the parish office in Van Horn, or mailing to P.O. Box 398, Van Horn, Texas 79855, or even sending with someone who attends church.