Despite these roadblocks, 78207 remains vibrant. It is the very source of San Antonio’s cultural cradle. “In light of our pains, the heartbeat of San Antonio’s culture pulses from these Westside neighborhoods,” says Quintero.
Called to pastor El Templo Cristiano in March of 2007, Norma, her husband Juan, and their three kids (Stephanie Elizabeth, Jon Caleb, and Kayla) moved into the parsonage directly next door to the church, where the Quinteros have spent the last 15 years serving their community.
“There’s no words to describe Pastora Norma,” said Bob Peña (better known as “Bro. Bob”), a lifelong Westsider and 18-year congregant of El Templo Cristiano.
“She pastors strong. When she first came to our church, she was ready to serve the community. She’s a strong lady. She finds time to care for everyone. It takes a special person to accomplish all that she does.”
► WATCH: Pastora Norma talks about
being a pastor beyond the building.
In addition to their traditional Sunday services, the church ministers through food drives, cooking meals for community members, and meeting other direct needs of the families and children in their neighborhood.
“When I started going to the church, it wasn’t like it is now with Pastora Norma,” Peña said. “We weren’t as active. She came in and put us to work.”
The path that led Quintero to her vocation and work on the Westside has not always been clear. Her commitment to the church and this work is a constant process with the community always top-of-mind.
As she began her ministry in San Antonio, Quintero wondered what she was doing here. She struggled to reconcile her life experiences with those of her neighbors. What did she have to offer those experiencing addiction? What did she have to offer grandparents raising their grandchildren? What did she have to offer women working in prostitution on her block? But soon, as she spent more time in conversation with them, as she sat across tables and on the steps of her own church, things became clearer.
“At the end of the day, I don’t believe it matters where you come from, what your upbringing was like, or your social status, or your education,” Quintero says. “We are all just people in need of someone to hear us, in need of a genuine friend.”