This is one of the more interesting things I have visited in San Antonio which is not often frequented by tourists. Many tourists visit the Mission San Jose, believed by many to be the most impressive (and best preserved) of the five San Antonio missions, but few people appreciate that the three hundred year old church houses an active congregation.
Yes, the mission is very old and it is beautiful, but, to be honest, I have toured Europe extensively and I have seen a lot of old churches and, after a while, they all start to look the same. However, what strikes me about the mission (and also the Cathedral in downtown San Antonio) is that, not only do you see an old building that has seen a lot of history and is filled with old art and artifacts, but you see church bulletins strewn about and bulletin boards with a note about the upcoming church bake sale or a camping trip for the youth group tacked to it. Most old European churches are sterile museums left to tell us of a culture that has long passed (except when they are occasionally used for weddings). These churches are as alive and thriving as they ever were and are a tribute to modern culture as much as they are a tribute to the culture of centuries past.
There are various services that are given every Sunday morning at various times in the mission San Jose. Some are in English and some in Spanish. However, the most interesting service is the Mariachi mass given every Sunday morning at noon (in English).
I am not Catholic (but have attended mass on several occasions) and have always been under the impression that mass was rigidly ritualized and well...boring. So I was really surprised to find a large troupe of singers and musicians singing and dancing throughout the service to Mariachi music. It was every bit as lively as an African-American church with a gospel choir.
This may not be for everyone, but it is a good way to learn something about not only the history of San Antonio but the modern hispanic culture thriving there currently as well.