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      The Nature Report: La Parra Ranch

      It's nestabled among the oak motts and mesquite thickets of deep South Texas, approximately half way between Corpus Christi and Brownsville.

      The Big House or Casa Grande was once headquarters for the historic Kenedy Ranch. Today, the imposing white stucco structure with red tile roof serves as the focal point for the Missionary Oblates.

      The Casa Grande and an adjacent chapel are the centerpieces of the House of Prayer and provide sanctuary for spiritual renewal. The Kenedy ranch once sprawled across half a million acres, and as you gaze out from the balcony atop the second story nearly all the land you can see in every direction belonged to the Kenedy TMs.

      With the passing of Sarita Kenedy East in 1961, the vast ranch was willed to the Kenedy Memorial Foundation and the Oblates. Mifflin Kenedy founded the ranch in 1882, and personally chose the home site because at 37 feet above sea level it is the highest ground for miles around. The historic ranch is also known as La Parra, (grapevine in Spanish) for the wild mustang grapes that fruit in the summer. Partnering with Richard King, founder of the King Ranch, Kenedy made his fortune running cargo laden steamboats up the Rio Grande to Roma.

      A relic from the era is a ships bell that is still rung daily at La Parra. Tucked away some three quarters of a mile southeast of the Big House is the Cowboy cemetery.

      Wildflowers blanket the old graves, which serve as final resting place for the vaqueros and their families one who lived and worked at historic La Parra Ranch.