Construction on a prayer garden at The Children’s Hospital has been placed on hold after human remains were located in the area.
“The early settlers of San Antonio are buried there,” said Ramon Vasquez with American Indians in Texas. “We’re talking about mayors buried there, American Indian Canary Islanders, Mexican soldiers.”
Vasquez added that even his own ancestors are buried there. He says that he was part of one of several local descendant groups invited to by The Children’s Hospital to help find a solution and stop the relocation of human remains of early settlers discovered at the building.
“We’re one of the organizations that were approached by the hospital to rethink and reconsider what they’re doing,” Vasquez noted.
The remains were unearthed in September 2016 during construction of a prayer garden, but Vasquez says that it may have been known for much longer that thousands of bodies are buried there. “There are over 3,000 people there, according to the records,” Vasquez said.
The Archdiocese of San Antonio has long reported that the bodies were exhumed and reinterred in the early part of the 20th century. However, such records are now being called into question. According to hospital officials, the hospital has and was working on the assumption that the bodies had all been removed.
Hospital officials planned to exhume and move the remains. Last spring, a court order allowed bones to be taken to Sunset Memorial Cemetery.
“The court-ordered removal of remains continues to be paused. The trenches have been covered with sand,” hospital spokeswoman Melissa Krause said on Wednesday. “The hospital is exploring a prayer garden redesign that would not require removal of the remains.”
The hospital continues to have construction within and around The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, as part of a transformation process that has been ongoing for more than five years, hospital officials said.
The hospital says that once the redesigned prayer garden plans are received, they will share it with the descendants for their approval. The Children’s Hospital said they continue to keep them informed of the process.