SAN ANTONIO - Former Archbishop Patricio Fernandez Flores passed away Monday at the age of 87, according to the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Flores served as the fourth archbishop of San Antonio from 1979-2005. The Archdiocese said he was the first Mexican-American elevated to this hierarchy in the Catholic Church in the United States.

After Flores’ ordination to the priesthood, he previously served at Houston parishes.

He also served as director of the Christian Family Movement and as director of the Bishop’s Committee for the Spanish-Speaking, a ministry that encouraged bilingual congregations.

In 1978, Bishop Flores was installed as prelate of the Diocese of El Paso. The Archdiocese of San Antonio said he served in that capacity for 15 months when the pontiff named him archbishop of San Antonio in October 1979. At that time, it was the largest ecclesiastical province in the United States. He was installed on Oct. 13, 1979.

As KENS 5 reported, Flores was held hostage in June 2000 for more than nine hours in his office in the Chancery by Nelson Antonio Escolero, a native of El Salvador. The Archdiocese said Escolero had been arrested for driving with a suspended license and feared that he would be deported.

Throughout the crisis, which was covered on live television at the time, the Archdiocese said viewers of many faiths prayed and hoped for man held in high esteem.

After more than 25 years of service as archbishop, he retired in 2005.

During his tenure, the Archdiocese said Flores served as a member of the Immigration and Refugee Department of the United States Catholic Conference, chairman of the Church in Latin America Committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and chairman of the Texas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but the Archdiocese said services will be held at San Fernando Cathedral.

(© 2017 KENS)