UIW Mission and Ministry and San Antonio Angel of Hope Foundation Invite Community to Honor and Remember Departed Children

December 14, 2023

In fall of 2003, the San Antonio Angel of Hope Foundation approached UIW and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (CCVI) asking for a small plot of land to erect the Angel of Hope statue. The statue was built as a memorial to all children who have passed away. 

The project was inspired by the book The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans which describes a woman living in Salt Lake City, Utah mourning the loss of her child at the base of an angel monument. Real life grieving parents sought out this angel statue as a place for them to mourn.  

In response, the author commissioned an angel statue to be created in Salt Lake City on December 6, 1994. Today there are over 150 Angel of Hope statues in the U.S., with the UIW campus housing the 67th statue, dedicated on September 19, 2006. 

Each year on December 6, UIW Mission and Ministry and the San Antonio Angel of Hope Foundation host the annual San Antonio Angel of Hope Candlelight Vigil. This event offers community members an opportunity to gather in remembrance of the loving memory of children who have since passed.  

The brief yet significant time these children spent on this earth is honored through the lighting of multiple candles at the San Antonio Angel of Hope statue. Donations are also accepted at the vigil, which are given to local charities who provide special services to children. 

Elisabeth “Beth” Villarreal, director of Campus Ministry, helped to host the most recent vigil and describes the Angel of Hope as a sacred place for anyone who is mourning the death of a loved one. “The Angel is a place of peace and love that is visited annually at the vigil by hundreds of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends gathering to grieve and remember their loved ones. They arrive as strangers and leave as part of a community.” 

Villarreal explained that the Angel of Hope statue, as well as the vigil itself, aligns with Bishop Dubuis’ call to the founding Sisters: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering in the persons of the multitude of the sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hand…” 

“Consolation, peace, and healing are provided by this simple monument,” Villarreal shared. “My hope is that the statue may continue to serve the San Antonio community for generations to come.”