Crusading "padrecito" dies
On this day in 1956, crusading San Antonio priest Carmelo Antonio Tranchese, known as "El Padrecito," died of a heart attack. Tranchese was born in Italy in 1880, entered the Jesuit order in 1896, and came to the United States in 1911. He became pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on the West Side of San Antonio, which was home for the majority of the city's 82,000 Mexican Americans, in 1932. Most worked as unskilled laborers for area companies, particularly the local pecan-shelling industry. Working conditions and wages were poor, and the living environment consisted of dilapidated housing and disease-infested neighborhoods. Tranchese immediately championed programs that brought improvements. He supported local strikes and was particularly active in soliciting provisions and establishing breadlines for pecan workers who struck in 1935 and 1938. Tranchese's most noted accomplishment, however, was his role in bringing a federal housing project, the Alazan-Apache Courts, to San Antonio.