Retired Archbishop Patrick Flores, the long-serving leader of South Texas Catholics, was found safe early Wednesday more than 200 miles from the assisted living center where he was reported missing the day before.
Flores, 78, was disoriented and was driving the wrong way on an interstate shortly before he was found pumping gas at a convenience store in West Texas at about 3 a.m., Crockett County Sheriff Shane Fenton said.
The retired leader of the Archdiocese of San Antonio was reported missing Tuesday afternoon when he didn't return home from a shopping trip. Flores lives at the facility for retired priests who are in declining health. He has diabetes, difficulty with balance and a bad back — resulting from being roughed up when he was taken hostage by a distraught man in 2000, said the Rev. Ed Loch, the archdiocese archivist.
More than 12 hours after Flores was reported missing, a Crockett County sheriff's deputy responded to a report that a car was headed in the wrong direction on Interstate 10 near Ozona. The deputy then found Flores pumping gas, Fenton said.
"He seemed really disoriented and didn't know exactly where he was at," Fenton said.
Flores told the deputy he was trying to get home and didn't realize he had been driving the wrong way on the interstate.
When Crockett County deputies found that Flores had been reported missing, they called San Antonio police and a local Catholic priest. The archbishop was taken to a local church to wait for someone from San Antonio to pick him up and take him home, Fenton said.
"Nobody's hurt. It turned out lucky," he said.
Flores served as the archbishop for 25 years before retiring in 2005.
He was a bishop for 10 years before being named archbishop and was the first Mexican-American bishop named in the United States.
Flores gained a reputation as an advocate for immigrants and the poor. He was also an outspoken critic of abortion and state law that allows people to carry concealed weapons.
Please remember the Archbishop in your prayers.