Father Richard Mario Rivera Peña, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, died Wednesday, June 26 at the age of 75. The youngest of seven children, Fr. Richard was born to Jesus and Elvira Peña on November 6, 1943 in San Antonio.
He attended Sacred Heart School, Irving Middle School, and Holy Cross High School. After graduating from Holy Cross, he attended San Antonio College, earning an associate’s degree in 1966.
In November of that year he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served until November 1968. Father Peña was a Vietnam veteran who saw combat as an infantryman during the 1968 Tet Offensive. While serving with his unit, the Third Ordinance Battalion, Security Platoon, he was awarded a Combat Infantry Badge and two Bronze Stars. Both his father and his brother Jesse were also combat veterans of World War II and Korea, respectively.
Following his military service, Father Peña had a wide variety of life experiences. He worked for the United States Army/Air Force Exchange Service at Fort Sam Houston, as a claims adjuster for USAA, and a member of the Clerical Division for the San Antonio Police Department. Father Peña initially joined the Holy Cross Order as a Brother in 1980, and served as a religious education teacher in San Antonio, then with the Spanish Apostolate in Albany, N.Y., and later as a high school teacher in Long Beach, California.
Following his time with that religious community, he pursued studies for the priesthood at Assumption Seminary, earning a bachelor’s degree in Theology from Our Lady of the Lake University and a master’s degree in Divinity from Oblate School of Theology.
Father Peña was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Patrick F. Flores on May 29, 1992 at Sacred Heart Church, his home parish, and the newly ordained priest celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving there on May 31.
He was initially assigned as parochial vicar of St. Leo the Great Church from 1992 to 1994. Father Peña later served as pastor of Christ the King Church and then St. Gabriel Church, the parish from which he retired.
Father Peña was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus with Council 1102, spiritual moderator of the Archdiocesan Union of Holy Name Societies, national and state chaplain to the American GI Forum, member of the Disabled American Veterans, as well as a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Catholic War Veterans Post 1891, American Legion Post 0002, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8936.
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Visitation and Services will be held at
St. Gabriel Catholic Church
747 S.W. 39th St.
San Antonio, Texas 78237
Visitation will begin at 8:30 A.M.
Rosary to be recited at 10:00 A.M.
Funeral Mass at 11:00 A.M.
with Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette presiding
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Interment with military honors will be held at
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
1520 Harry Wurzbach
San Antonio, Texas 78209
*Family and Friends may begin to gather at the cemetery no earlier than 10:30 A.M.*