Who We Are
St. Francis De Paula Parish is one of the oldest in south Texas. San Diego had been settled in the 1840s, but it was only after the population began to increase that Father Claude Jaillet built the first chapel in 1867. Father Jaillet first landed in New York City and proceeded to Galveston in 1866. He was appointed to serve the community of San Diego. Only able to speak French, the priest rode into his new home on a borrowed horse and saddle, fortunately a Spanish-French dictionary and a borrowed missal and chalice. Father Jaillet raised $700 to build the first church in 1867. He spent so much time on horseback that he became known as the “saddlebag priest of the Nueces”. In 1875, a larger church was built.
In 1884 father Jaillet was called to Corpus Christi and Father Bard, (also from France) who was sent to San Diego to assist father Jaillet continued caring for the parish and surrounding missions. Father Bard gathered funds and built the present day church in 1908 which was dedicated in 1909 by Monsignor Jaillet. The magnificent interior, recently restored, is a reminder of the Hispanic roots of South Texas. St. Francis e Paula is the center of life in San Diego and is the drawing point in times of joy and sorrow.