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Missions Administration in Eighteenth-Century Texas: Concepts and Practice

Franciscan missions in Texas during the long eighteenth century demonstrated both continuity with prior New World missionary methods and innovation in the face of changing times and new indigenous responses to missionary efforts. The paper will address the concepts of mission administration of friars in Texas, that is, how they imagined the missionary landscape, leadership, and impact of the structured approach to congregating potential converts. Innovations on these concepts developed in Texas, and the paper will address such changes and why they were proposed. The Texas mission experience was unique in northern New Spain in that numerous attempts led to few lasting missions as shifts in the indigenous political landscape frustrated friars’ efforts. That said, the paper will examine the Franciscans’ ability to adapt to these challenges and the influence of those experiences on other missionary efforts during the century.

Jay T. Harrison, Catholic University of America