Pistol-Packin' Padre

May 23rd, 2011

January 1947, page 1

Photo from


It reads like an Old-West TV show: The people of St.Agnes Church, on the west side of San Antonio, Texas, are oppressed by poverty and crime — so much crime that they’re even afraid to come to church. Desperate to help, the archbishop of San Antonio calls for a hero. And out of the dusty fields of Yoakum, Texas, comes a former bronco-busting rancher turned priest, Father Henry V. Hug, a holy tough guy afraid of nothing, who’s good with his fists and carries a gun hidden in the folds of his cassock. But don’t worry. As this January 1947 article says, he only “shoots to kill crime.”


It would make good TV. But, as the article points out, it made for an even better pastor. After arriving at St. Agnes in the early 1940s, Father Hug worked hard to make the parish neighborhood safe, to bring the people back to church, and to provide health care and educational opportunities. He is still remembered and dearly loved by many older parishioners at St. Agnes. One parishioner said “Father Henry V. Hug was a very dear friend of my family from the time he arrived at St. Agnes. …His housekeeper was his sister Josephine, lovingly called ‘Dough Dough.’” Another remembered how he led the efforts to establish a clinic to care for underprivileged children and mothers, and how he helped the parish grow and thrive.


When Father Hug died from cancer in 1971 at the age of 65, the San Antonio Light noted that while he was just as tough as the next guy, he was also “a good and gentle man” who spoke Spanish fluently and did all he could to get neighborhood boys and girls out of gangs. The Light also noted that he “received a tearful and rousing sendoff when he left the growing parish in 1948. He served several other parishes during the last years of his life, but none like St. Agnes, which he learned to love the most.” (My special thanks to Ester Perry, current pastoral associate at St. Agnes, who kindly sent me comments from parishioners and Father Hug’s obituary from the San Antonio Light.)


So, here, from January 1947, meet Father Henry V. Hug, the Pistol-Packin’ Padre.


Dan Connors



Click here to download a PDF of this classic article