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Father Tony Vilano named new rector of San Fernando
the announcement at a press conference held at the café at San Fernando
Cathedral, Archbishop Gomez said, “Father Vilano’s ability to bring
people together, developing in them a sense of unity and purpose, will
be invaluable as he works with people of the parish and their
He especially pointed to Father Vilano’s accomplishments while at St. Mary’s in Fredricksburg, where he helped to increase student enrollment four consecutive years and conducted a successful $4.5 million capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art gymnasium and community center.
“I come to San Fernando Cathedral with no set agenda,” Father Vilano said. “I intend to spend the months ahead simply listening to the people and responding to their needs.” Father Vilano said that he has learned much from the people at every assignment he has had as a priest, “My ministry is enriched by the unselfish giving of time and talent by the people of parishes where I have served.”
Saying he recognized that he was following in the footsteps of truly great priests who have served the archdiocese as rectors of San Fernando Cathedral, Father Vilano pledged to continue what they started and build on their legacy for years to come. “I look forward to spending time with Father David Garcia, Father Virgil Elizondo and Bishop Bernard F. Popp. I know they will provide me with guidance.”
The priest succeeds Father Garcia, who served as rector of the cathedral for 13 years. During that time, Father Garcia helped to further its historical, cultural and spiritual legacy. He led a successful capital campaign, raising more than $21 million to transform its historic sanctuary and expand the center city complex with two new buildings, Cathedral Centre and the AT&T Community Centre at San Fernando. He also was instrumental in proposing the current renovations of Main Plaza. Father Garcia has already begun his new assignment as director of The Old Spanish Missions, but will remain as rector of San Fernando Cathedral until June 1.
Commenting on Father Vilano’s selection as his successor, Father Garcia said, “Now it is time to pass the torch on to a new generation of leaders. I helped recruit him into the seminary and I helped support his formation as a priest. I am delighted with the choice of Father Vilano. I am convinced he will be a great addition to this place, and our people will come to love him. I am committed to support him in any way I can.”
Father Garcia called his time at San Fernando Cathedral “the most challenging and satisfying 13 years of my life,” adding, “I give thanks to God for this fantastic opportunity to serve and work with so many outstanding people of the cathedral and the city.”
Pointing to the unique role San Fernando Cathedral and its people have played in the history and growth of San Antonio, Archbishop Gomez saluted Father Garcia for the leadership and service he has provided to the Catholic Church and the whole community. He closed by saying, “Father Garcia, on behalf of the people of the archdiocese, I offer my heartfelt thanks.”
Father Garcia also thanked Archbishop Gomez for his confidence and leadership, while extending his gratitude to Archbishop Patrick Flores, “I thank Archbishop Flores, my mentor for many years, who appointed me to many positions in the archdiocese as well as San Fernando.”
Father Vilano was born in Landstuhl, Germany in 1965 to José Antonio and Rosalinda Vilano. One of four children in this Air Force family, he lived many places across the country, but calls San Antonio home. He graduated in 1984 from Judson High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1990. Father Vilano is an alumnus of Assumption Seminary and received his master’s degree in divinity from Oblate School of Theology. He was ordained on May 17, 1996, at Prince of Peace Church in San Antonio.
In his current capacity as director of Department of Clergy and Consecrated Life, Father Vilano assists the archbishop in the pastoral care of all priests and deacons. He assists clergy to continue their personal and spiritual growth through annual retreats, clergy days and annual convocations. He will continue to serve in this position. He will also officially take his new post June 3.