Breathing Hope: A Public Health Mission Inspired by St. Anthony in San Antonio


Juan Roacho

1st Year MPH Epidemiology Candidate

On June 13, 1691, a group of Spanish explorers and missionaries traveled along a winding river and arrived in a vicinity mainly occupied by the Payaya people near the San Pedro Springs area, for which they named the river and Payaya settlement “San Antonio” after the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th). Primarily considered the patron saint for recovering lost items, Saint Anthony (1195 - 1231) was an early 13th-century Portuguese Catholic priest who was born into a prosperous family yet devoted his entire life to acts of charity and benevolence towards the poor and the sick. This act of naming the settlement after Saint Anthony was a tribute to his saintly life and a symbol of hope for the prosperity and growth of the new community.

 As my colleagues and I prepare for our public health deployment to San Antonio in May, I take inspiration from St. Anthony’s altruistic acts and anticipate this experience with open eyes, minds, and hearts to effectively serve our communities in need. One of the aspects of this experience that I look forward to the most is learning about the extent of asthma across diverse communities, those that may face health disparities and discrimination daily. A second element of this experience that I look forward to is observing the current community effort from local leaders and organizations dedicated to improving asthma education for critical health workers. I am truly excited to work with the South Central Area Health Education Center (SCAHEC) to tackle these projects. May St. Anthony of Padua intercede for our entire cohort, the local community health partners, and the countless communities affected by this public health issue.