Father Roy Lee Snipes, OMI
Diocese of Brownsville, Texas
Father Roy Lee Snipes has been a Missionary Oblate of Mary priest for 39 years in the Diocese of Brownsville. He is a man of simplicity and of humility and fell in love with the Rio Grande Valley and mission of the Oblates for those two reasons. Father Roy began teaching in an unincorporated town in the Rio Grande Valley in 1968, and moved to Mission, Texas 25 years ago to become a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. He is the always smiling, cowboy hat wearing, beer drinking priest that is admired for his charm and spirited sermons where he is surrounded by a dozen of his rescue dogs and country music. His is known not only in Brownsville but around the world as the “Cowboy Priest.”
While Father Roy runs faith formation programs, sacramental preparation classes, liturgical celebrations and fundraising activities like any other priest, he is also constantly in the national spotlight defending religious freedom. La Lomita Mission, the chapel where Father Roy was ordained in 1980, is currently stands in the way of plans a border wall. Father Roy avoids critical rhetoric and political bias by constantly promoting the spiritual legacy of his Oblate missionaries and his commitment to keeping the entire diocese united.
His authentic message of the Gospel and fatherly influence transcends the borders of Brownsville and beyond. He serves a region with 75,000 residents and is known to celebrate the mystery of faith in a way that lifts up the hearts of both the faithful and nonfaithful. “My mission as an oblate priest is to engage the hearts and minds of the people I serve with the mystery and the message of Christ’s love,” Father Roy said. “I can think of no greater, more fulfilling purpose for my life!”
Making people feel comfortable and speaking to them authentically is the only way he knows to share God’s message. Father Roy has stressed for the past century that relationships with people, earth and God must be as natural as they are intimate. Because of this, he works to relate the sublime truths of the Catholic faith so that they can be readily understood, believed and put into practice by people from all walks of life.
Father Roy has adapted to the Hispanic and farming culture that defines Mission, Texas and promotes that spirit in all parish activities to make sure he includes and makes every person feel welcome. For that reason and many more, Father Roy was nominated for the 2018 Rio Grande Valley Citizen of the Year. His dedication to his faith, people and country has impacted the entire region and nation. Father Roy’s love of the national beer of Texas, Lonestar, is almost as strong as his love for the people of Brownsville, his ministry and his faith.