The San Jose Mariachi Mass was a special place to go in San Antonio on Sundays when out of town guests visited our family on weekends. The music filled my heart and my soul with lyrics that I didn’t quite understand. This didn’t matter. It was the music that made me want to dance and sing on special Sundays.
At around the age of 12, I began studying the mariachi Mass with Jesse and Josephine Orta on Monday evenings. Jesse and Josephine were the founders of the mariachi Mass at San Jose Mission and spent a lifetime teaching hundreds of adults and children how to play the mariachi Mass, the posadas, the serenatas and many beautiful cultural traditions of Mexico. The Orta family alone had a significant impact on the cultural uniqueness of San Antonio. Their contributions to the church have attracted thousands of locals and tourists to the historical San Jose Mission each Sunday to celebrate the Mass with the mariachi choir. Today more than 50 mariachi musicians and choir members gather to continue the traditions founded by the Orta family in 1969. Their grand daughter (daughter of Geraldine “Boo Boo” Orta Charles) Danielle Charles, and other family members, continue playing and singing as part of the mariachi choir.
Jesse and Josephine Orta received the Ruben Fuentes Award for the Mariachi Music Hall of Fame in 2000 as part of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza held in San Antonio. At the time Jesse Orta was alive to receive the award along with his daughter Boo Boo and many of the San Jose Mission mariachi choir members. Boo Boo later received the award posthumously in 2006.
Congratulations to each of the members of San Jose mariachi choir for 40 years of dedication to the church. Thank you for your contributions to San Jose Mission and for contributing to the cultural uniqueness of San Antonio.
The mariachi Mass is played each Sunday at 12 noon at Mission San Jose Catholic Church at 701 East Pyron, San Antonio, Texas 78214. Plan to arrive early as the line to enter church begins to form at about 11:30 a.m. Latecomers stand in the back of the church. For more information call 210-922.0543.