Archbishop Rudolph A. Gerken
Rudolph Aloysius Gerken was born on March 7, 1887, at Dyersville, Iowa, on the Gerken family homestead east of town. He was the sixth of seven children born to William and Elizabeth (Sudmeier) Gerken. His mother died, however, when he was only one and a half years old, and the person whom he knew as his mother was William's second wife, Carolina Gerken née Wuebbelt. William and Carolina Gerken had six additional children. His siblings were Adelhide (Addie), John, Leo, Frank, Henry, Amelia (Molly), William (Bill), Laura, Oscar, Thecla, Ludwig, and Oliva.
The boy, known as Rudy, grew up on the family farm and received his early education in the rural school of the district and later attended the St. Francis school of Dyersville. He attended Pio Nono College at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, [Catholic Normal School at St. Francis, Wisconsin,] and graduated from St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana.
Becomes teacher, decides to enter priesthood.
Not only Rudy but also his older brother Leo had decided to enter the holy priesthood of the Catholic Church. Coincidentally, their decisions to become priests occurred at the same time, but neither knew of the other's plans. And so it happened that one day their father William received a letter from one son informing him of his intention to become a priest, and the very next day William received a letter from the other son informing him of the same thing. Rudy's studies for the priesthood took him from the University of Dallas to Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where he taught languages, from 1913 to 1917. While there, Rudy studied theology and completed his studies for the priesthood.
REV. FATHER GERKEN READS FIRST HOLY MASS
Promptly at 10 o'clock, a procession consisting of little girls in white, acolytes, members of the clergy, and Tonner's Concert Band escorted the newly ordained priest from the parochial residence to St. Francis Church where he approached the altar and officiated for the first time at the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. Father Gerken was assisted by Very Rev. Theodore Warning as arch-priest; Rev. William Kunkel of Raymond, Iowa, a cousin, as deacon; and Rev. Dr. August Thier of Dubuque College as subdeacon. Leo Gerken, a brother, was master of ceremonies.
Sermon by Rev. Bumholt.
The little bride was Elizabeth Gerken, niece of the newly ordained, and the flower girls were Lea Tegeler and Alma Gerken, also nieces of the young priest. The two acolytes were Elmer Willenborg, nephew, and Master Arthur Ament.
Other priests present in the sanctuary were Monsignor George W. Heer of Dubuque, Ia; Rev. Frederick W. Pape of New Vienna, Ia; and Rev. Frederick W. Oberbroeckling of Luxemburg, Ia., assistant priests; also Rev. Henry P. Rohlman, Dubuque, Ia.; Rev. J.G. Heiring, Tulsa, Okla.; Rev. F. Scherbring, Shaw, Ore.; Rev. Aloysius J. Thole, New Vienna, Ia.; Rev. Henry J. Dunkel and Rev. Mathias M. Hoffman, Dyersville, Ia.; and Rev. Joseph H. Schilmoeller, Worthington, Ia.
The beautiful gold chalice used by Father Gerken was a gift from his parents and sisters and brothers. Besides this valued gift, he was presented with other presents in remembrance of the event and tokens of admiration and esteem.
Guest at a Banquet.
Covers were laid for two hundred at the banquet, which was an elaborate one. It was served in three courses. Wm. Warren, caterer, was in charge, and the serving was done by the members of the Young Ladies' Sodality. The hall was beautifully decorated.
Father Gerken has joined the Dallas Diocese where his future field of labor will be. Rev. Gerken enters upon the duties of his new state of life with the best wishes of numerous friends. He is popularly known and admired for his high ideals in his life's work.
From 1917 to 1927, the Reverend Rudolph A. Gerken served as pastor of churches at Abilene and Ranger in the Diocese of Dallas and was instrumental in building new churches, schools, missions, and rectories in various sections of West Texas and the Panhandle.
Father Gerken was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart Parish at Abilene, Texas, in 1917. While there Father Gerken built his first church, and it was there that he instituted and erected a Mexican school.
He became pastor at St. Rita’s Church at Ranger, Texas, in 1919, where he served until 1927. After using different homes and buildings as a church, he began the construction of St. Rita’s Church, one of the finest churches in the Dallas diocese. St. Rita's Church at Ranger is a large red brick edifice, in the Cooper addition, is one of the prettiest best furnished churches in Ranger. A tent had served as the church during construction. In addition, a parochial residence and two handsome school buildings were built. All told, the buildings represent a value of something like $100,000. During his pastorate at Ranger, he also erected new churches at Eastland, Cisco, Breckenridge, and Pioneer.
With the help of his brother Bill, he had a two-story building moved onto the church grounds to be used as a school and convent. The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio, Texas, staffed the school and lived on the second floor. The parochial school employs six sisters as teachers and includes in its curriculum the primary and grammar grades and four years of high school work.
In addition to his parish duties, Father Gerken was named dean of the Colorado River Deanery and also Consultor of the Dallas Diocese in 1924. Also in 1924, the Reverend Gerken, with the special permission of Rome, named a chapel in honor of the yet "Blessed Theresa." This was the first place that her picture was displayed for public veneration. Father Gerken also constructed churches throughout the mission area of Ranger, Texas.
Father Gerken returns to Iowa for funerals of father and brother.
Raised to Office of Dean and Consultor in November 1924.
The deanery over which he presided consists of Ranger, Eastland, Cisco, Abilene, Bomarton, Rhineland, Sweetwater, and several other West Texas missions. The appointment was considered an unusual honor by reason of the fact that the Very Rev. R.A. Gerken was the youngest man ever to have received the dual appointment of dean and diocesan consultor, the distinction being conferred on him by reason of his extraordinary accomplishments in the Dallas diocese. In the entire Dallas diocese, there are only four deans and four consultors. The duties of the dean are the general supervision of the parishes in his deanery and the duties of the consultor are to advise the bishop of the diocese.
Appointed Bishop to Newly Created Diocese of Amarillo.
With reference to Father Gerken, the Ranger, Texas, Times says, "In all the parishes he has been untiring in his efforts to build up the church property and promote the spiritual life of his people. He is a man of a most happy disposition, always smiling, simple in the conduct of his life and affairs, avoiding any show of ostentation, and the only thing that in any mars the joy of his people and his friends outside of the church in Ranger is that in his new appointment he will be transferred to Amarillo."
REASONS FOR CREATING THE NEW DIOCESE.
REV. R. A. GERKEN IS CONSECRATED BISHOP OF AMARILLO.
The consecration ceremonies were at 9:30 o'clock Tuesday morning in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart at Dallas, Texas, the Right Reverend Joseph Patrick Lynch, D.D., Bishop of Dallas, being the consecrator. The Right Reverend Christopher Edward Byrne, D.D., Bishop of Galveston, and the Right Reverend Francis Clement Kelly, D.D., Bishop of Oklahoma, were the co-consecrators.
The other officers of the consecration ceremonies were as follows:
His Grace, Archbishop Drossaerts of San Antonio, Texas, preached the sermon for the occasion.
Following the consecration ceremonies at the cathedral, a banquet was held at the Adolphus Hotel at Dallas at 1 p.m. and covers were laid for 800 guests. Bishop Lynch of Dallas acted in the capacity of toastmaster. Msgr. Wm. D. O'Brien of Extension Society, Chicago, spoke on "Our Holy Father and Our Church." Msgr. Robert M. Nolan of Fort Worth, Texas, spoke on "Our President and Our Country."
In behalf of the clergy of the Dallas Diocese, Rev. James F. Byrnes made an address of presentation, to which Bishop Gerken made the closing remarks.
The following is the menu served at the banquet:
SUNG PONTIFICAL MASS AT RANGER.
Immediately after the high mass, Bishop Gerken administered the sacrament of confirmation to his first class of children. At five o'clock the same afternoon, he administered confirmation to a class of Mexican children and delivered the sermon in the Spanish language to them. At 7:30 o'clock that evening, Bishop Gerken was tendered a banquet by his parishioners at the Gholson Hotel in Ranger, and the menu served was as follows:
After the banquet the following program was rendered:
The school children rendered a welcome program to the newly consecrated Bishop on Sunday afternoon and presented him with the precious Mitre. The parishioners presented him with a well-filled purse after the banquet on Sunday evening.
On Confirmation Tour.
On Tuesday he confirmed a class of Mexicans at four o'clock in the afternoon and at eight o'clock a class of whites. The parishioners of Cisco also had a banquet in his honor.
On Wednesday Bishop Gerken confirmed in another of his former mission places, the parish at Eastland, Texas. The ceremonies took place at four o'clock in the afternoon when he confirmed a class of Mexicans and in the evening a class of whites, after which he was given another banquet by the parishioners of Eastland.
BISHOP GERKEN IS THE YOUNGEST IN UNITED STATES.
Bishop Gerken had purchased land northeast of Amarillo for St. George's College, an all male preparatory school. Anxious to begin classes, Bishop Gerken opened St. George's College on September 12, 1928, before construction of the school had even been completed. Lacking a building, the thirty-five students who enrolled attended classes in the basement of the old Sacred Heart Cathedral.
"Soon after classes began, Bishop Gerken received alarming news. Cardinal Mundelein (for whom the school was named) failed to secure the funding that was promised. So, Bishop Gerken began a frantic search for money. Almost immediately the bishop encountered good fortune. Mrs. Katherine E. Price, a widow from Connecticut, wrote to him in November inquiring about the needs of the Diocese. Mrs. Price was intent upon aiding the church in the Southwest in the form of donations from the estate of her late husband, Lucian B. Price. Bishop Gerken informed Mrs. Price about the need for money to finish construction of the new school, and Mrs. Price responded by agreeing to finance St. George's College and to add two wings to the building. The first school year ended with the graduation of three students. And in honor of Mrs. Price, the school was renamed Price Memorial College."
For ten years St. George's College was run by diocesan priests. Its name was changed to Price Memorial College in 1930 to honor Katherine E. Price, the widow of merchant Lucien B. Price, a major benefactor of the school. The word Memorial was dropped from its title when the Christian Brothers took over the school in 1936. Two years later Price added an eighth grade to the four high school years. In the 1950s, Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman, a former archbishop of the archdiocese of New York and the top Catholic prelate in the early 1950s, went to Amarillo to dedicate a dormitory and recreation hall as Gerken Hall. In 1964 the school was renamed Price Catholic High School, to avoid confusion caused by the word College. The brothers withdrew from the school in 1966, and the school was renamed Alamo Catholic High School, after a merger with St. Mary's Academy and grades seven and eight from Amarillo's other Catholic schools, and the school was now co-educational. The school was renamed Holy Cross Catholic Academy after a complete renovation, and it was newly dedicated on October 11, 2000.
In the six years of his administration of the Amarillo diocese, Bishop Gerken faced many serious difficulties brought about by the vastness of his episcopal territory and the exigencies of what he on one occasion called "a pioneer mission field in the United States."
Immediately after his installation, Bishop Gerken undertook to meet the many difficulties presented by the new diocese of Amarillo. In an interview given to the N.C.W.C. News in Washington in 1928, he revealed a plan to invite properly equipped young women throughout the country to volunteer a year of free service, under the direction of the Sisters, to teaching Catholic children in the mission schools of the diocese.
"The new diocese of Amarillo," he said at the time, "embracing a vast territory of over 70 counties represents a pioneer mission field in the United States. Four-fifths of the faithful are poor Mexicans driven from their native land by bitter persecution. They are scattered over this extensive territory where, for the greater part, they are deprived of the Catholic Church and school, with the result that thousands have already been lost to Mother Church. Missionary workers of every other denomination find a fertile field among them."
He then explained how the plan would relieve partly a situation created by the large territory and the scarcity of priests and Sisters.
A few weeks later, His Excellency paid a high tribute to the Catholic Press in announcing that his request for volunteer lay teachers had met with wide response.
A joint memorial passed by the New Mexico legislature following Archbishop Gerken's death adds the following: "Possessing a magnetic personality and great sincerity, which attracted people to him and resulted in the formation of many lasting friendships, the then Bishop Gerken participated actively in community affairs at Amarillo. He belonged to the Rotary Club of that city, and participated in enterprises which had for their aim the upbuilding of West Texas, all regardless of faith or creed, but looking only to the elevation of his fellowman, and the solution of social and economical problems."
Other Gerkens migrate to Texas; Bishop says funeral mass for his mother.
Other Gerkens migrated to Texas and the Southwest, following in the footsteps of Bishop Gerken. His brothers Bill and Ludwig both moved to Texas, with Ludwig later moving on to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Both their brother Oscar and their uncle Louis Gerken spent some time in Texas as well.
Giles Gerken recalls his Uncle Rudy.
"Later in Dyersville the relationship gathered at Uncle John B. Gerken's house in town. He had just returned from a European trip (Not sure if it were a round-the-world trip or just Europe). Anyway I remember him telling about a visit to Germany--of the fact that young people's camps were built with male and female across the road from each other to encourage fraternization (to increase troop supply). His statement was 'Something is going to happen over there--watch out.' He gave small gifts to us younger children from Europe.
"At some other visit everyone was at Aunt Thecla's farm, and the kids were playing ball in pasture. He came out and removed his cross, hung it on a hay loader, and played ball with them."
IS NAMED ARCHBISHOP OF SANTA FE, N. MEXICO
The See of Santa Fe, of which Archbishop-designate Gerken will be the seventh ordinary, was established in 1850 and became an archbishopric in 1875. The archdiocese covers an area of 104,168 square miles and has a Catholic population of 136,385. Fifty-four secular priests and 52 priests of religous Orders labor in the See in 56 churches with resident priests, 84 mission stations, 23 chapels, and 306 missions with churches.
Time magazine included an article about the appointment of Rudolph Gerken as archbishop of Santa Fe and the following are some quotations from the article:
"To [Amarillo] went scores of priests, monsignori and bishops ... In Amarillo they made processions, held solemn ceremonies in the Cathedral, all in honor of a plump prelate whom they presently escorted by train to Santa Fe, there to install him as Santa Fe's seventh archbishop. He was Most Rev. Rudolph Aloysius Gerken, 47, bishop of Amarillo since it was first made a diocese six years ago. To him it was 'an adventure with God.' "
Archbishop Gerken Installed as the Seventh Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Archbishop Gerken arrived in Santa Fe from Amarillo at 6:30 o'clock, a.m., and he was accompanied by the Most Reverend Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, D.D., Apostolic Delegate in the United States, of Washington, D.C., and dozens of other prelates including 30 priests.
They arrived at Santa Fe by special train, and the Pullman bearing the distinguished religious delegates was drawn by two engines to the depot in that city. Among the passengers on the special were the apostolic delegate; the new archbishop; Bishop C. Byrne, Galveston; Bishop Lynch, Dallas; Monsignor R.H. Diamond, Dallas; Monsignor O'Brien, Chicago; Monsignor J.F. O'Connor, Fort Worth; Monsignor A. Amirault, Amarillo; Monsignor V. Graffeo, Corsicanna, Texas; Abbot Augustin Antoniolli, New Orleans; Abbot Edward Burgert, O.S.B., Subiaco, Ark.; Father A. Danglmayr, secretary to Bishop Lynch; Father F.M. Kaminsky, chancellor of the Amarillo diocese; and Father Steinlage, rector of Price Memorial Colloege at Amarillo.
A large crowd was at the station to welcome the new archbishop. A door of one of the Pullmans opened, and he appeared smiling warmly upon the crowd, so reports the Santa Fe New Mexican, from which we have a good report of the installation ceremonies. A volley of "vivas" went up and the 111th cavalry band struck up. As the new archbishop passed through the narrow lane, which the police, sheriff, and state motor patrol had difficulty in clearing through the throng, the men and women grabbed his hand, bowing, and kissing his ring.
The arrangements for the reception of the archbishop-elect and his escort to the cathedral when he arrived Wednesday were in the charge of the K. of C. transportation committee and approved by Maj. A. Esvelt. All cars in the march met at the Santa Fe depot at 6 a.m. as the train arrived.
The dignitaries were escorted to waiting cars, and the procession was on its way to the archbishop's residence. Leaving the depot, the line of march went east on Montezuma Avenue to Galisteo Street, north on Galisteo to San Francisco to the cathedral. Sheriff Jesus M. Raca headed the procession as it wended its way through the streets. Crowds lined the sidewalks. The new state motor patrol acted as outriders. Troop 28 of the Boy Scouts assisted in handling traffic. From the cathedral the drivers took the different dignitaries to their respective reservations. Nearly all of the visiting prelates, including the apostolic delegate, were housed at St. Vincent's sanitarium while in this city.
In the first car, decorated with yellow and white, the papal colors, was the apostolic delegate, Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, accompanied by the Rt. Rev. Monsignor Estvelt and Gen. Osborne C. Wood, personal represntative of Governor Seligman. In the next, similarly decorated, was Bishop Gerken. Bishop Joseph Patrick Lynch of Dallas rode with him.
Other prelates and priests came in the following cars, who were in turn followed by the 111th Cavalry Band and Battery A, 158th Field Artillery, newly motorized with big trucks drawing its field guns. Many more cars were swung into line, bringing up the rear.
The Private Ceremony.
Immediately after presenting these documents, the Bishop of Amarillo became the Archbishop of Santa Fe. At age 40, he was the youngest archbishop in the United States. These papers were the Latin Order from Rome. Before the Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gerken, the documents from Rome were read in Latin and English to the congregation by Monsignor Estvelt, administrator.
Program Moves Smoothly.
The Procession into the Cathedral.
As the procession entered the main door at the rear, first came three Franciscans, the one in the center carrying a tall brass cross. Following them came hundreds of priests, the other orders in their distinctive robes and secular priests in their black cassocks and white surplices. When the new archbishop stepped within the doors, the procession halted. At this time all of the priests had been seated, but still it reached from the altar rail to the door, The main aisle was filled end to end with the red-garbed monsignori, bishops, and archbishops. There was a brief ceremony as the archbishop first placed foot across the threshold of his cathedral. The monsignori marched two and two. Each of the bishops had an escort of two priests, one on each side.
Just ahead of the archbishop came Archbishop Ruizy Fibres, exiled apostolic delegate to Old Mexico,; behind the new archbishop came Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, apostolic delegate to the United States. As they passed up the aisle, the apostolic delegate gave his blessing to the congregation, making the sign of the cross, and the crowd, which had been standing, knelt momentarily.
It is estimated that 7 archbishops, 24 bishops, 44 monsignors, 2 abbots, and 2 provincials (heads of religious orders in a province), and 200 priests attended the ceremony, as well as many visitors, members of the laity, also coming to Santa Fe from Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico points. The hundreds of priests, who many times have officiated at the high altar themselves, were seated with the congregation in one of the chapels, in the transept.
Only the highest prelates were on the altar, aside from the "padres" who assisted at the Most Rev. Rudolph A. Gerken's first mass as archbishop. There wasn't room even for the monsignori and the visiting abbots. At the "Sanctus" of the mass, the monsignori in their red capes took up a position in front of the altar railing. They stretched across the space just in front of it from one side to the other.
Never has Santa Fe seen so many of the dignitaries of the church gathered together at one time. Seldom has a march larger city seen such a magnificent spectacle.
At the altar the new archbishop donned his vestments of the mass on this feast day of Saint Philip Benicius. The new archbishop occupied his seat on the throne on the right as one faces the episcopal throne, to the left of the main altar, the gospel side. The apostolic delegate was on the epistle side.
Features of the Ceremony.
There was an innovation. For the first time for many years the Gregorian chant was heard inside the walls. The Christian Brothers of St. Michael's College chanted the "proper" of the mass. El Coro de San Francisco sung a choral mass.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the new archbishop gave his blessings to the clergy and the laity. Archbishop Gerken spoke to the vast multitude in both English and Spanish, which in part is as follows:
"I hope to succeed in the great task of promoting God's honor and glory by the salvation of souls," said the archbishop. "Well do we realize the heavy responsibility of the task with which we are entrusted, in taking over this great, historic, mission archdiocese."
He reviewed conditions in the vast area under his archepiscopal care and especially mentioned the hardship and the multiplying problems which have come with the depression of the past few years.
"But we are no more discouraged than the apostles of old," said he. "These are world conditions. It shall be 'Not I, but Thou, O Lord.' We shall ever remember that He has said, 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.' "
It was an unforgettable scene which marked the induction into office of the successor of the late lamented and beloved Father Albert Daeger of blessed memory. It took place in the presence of a papal delegate, of monsignori, of bishops and abbots, of hundreds of secular priests, of lines of brown-gowned Franciscans, of rows upon rows of black-habited nuns, of hundreds of the faithful, of prominent men and women of Santa Fe and all over the state and distant places.
For all the brilliant robes of purple and gold and white, for all the sonorous Latin and the stately dignity of the Roman Church, the simplicity of the pioneer Santa Fe church tradition pervaded the ceremony. It was solemn, dramatic, colorful, but it was inherently simple. A significant token was the fact that the new archbishop, as each priest of the diocese knelt to kiss his ring, shook hands cordially with every one; and another was the fact that his address was in both English and very fluent and musical Spanish.
The earnestness and sincerity of the speaker's pledge to carry out the great tradition of soul-saving in the field made famous by the labors of of such shepherds as Archbishop Lamy impressed his hearers deeply.
Is Seventh Archbishop.
The archdiocese was established in 1850 and created an archbishopric in 1875.
Tragedy Marks Prelates.
Most of Them French.
The new archbishop is a man of scholarship and is of German descent, the second with a German name. He is the only archbishop who has affiliated with a business and professional men's organization; he is a Rotarian.
Visiting prelates and clergy in Santa Fe for the installation of the new archbishop were taken for drives in and about town under the auspices of the N.C.C.W., Miss Clara Berehtold, chairman of the committee, announced today. The cars left the Cathedral place at 3 p.m.
They were given the choice of two routes: First, to the bishop's lodge to see Archbishop Lamy's chapel and then to Tesuque where the Indians put on a dance; second, around the city to the San Miguel Chapel and Guadalupe Church, the Laboratory of Anthropology, and back to St. Francis Cathedral to see the records. Professor and Mrs. Sylvanus G. Morley have thrown open their home for an exhibition of ecclesiastical antiques, including vestments and ivories from Mexico and Guatemala. The second drive included a visit to their place.
In the evening a banquet was given in honor of Archbishop Gerken at the LaFonda Hotel, under the auspices of the Knights of Columbus. The archbishop gave a brief talk, which is as follows: "My heart is filled to overflowing, my mind running over with thoughts, as a result of the magnificent reception given me. I wish I had words to express my thanks, my appreciation of your kindness, your hospitality, your courtesy. Your Governor Seligman has opened to me a field for cultivation. I promise that the plow is ready, and that it will 'Plow deep while the sluggards sleep.' "
Dyersville friends and relatives of Archbishop Gerken extend to him congratulations and best wishes and God's Choicest Blessings in his new field of duty. Among the relatives and friends who attended the installation services were John Gerken, Dyersville; Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Gerken and family, Amarillo, Texas; Ludwig Gerken, Amarillo; Mrs. Clem Bruggeman, Petersburg, Iowa; Mr. and Mrs. William Janssen, Umbarger, Texas; Louis Gerken, Sr., Amarillo; Rev. William Kunkel, Norway, Iowa; Rev. Father Warning and Rev. Thier of Dubuque, Iowa; and Rev. Forkenbrock of New Hampton, Iowa; and Vincent Gerken, Amarillo, Texas.
"To recite the many splendid things done by Archbishop Gerken for his church during his residence in New Mexico, or the many fine things he accomplished in the everyday world in which he lived, with no thought of creed or faith of those who might be the beneficiaries of his bounty, would require an undue extension of this resolution. When, inspired by reasons beyond human calculation, some of the leaders in our sister republic of Mexico insisted that the churches in that country be closed, and clergymen of all faiths were banished from their altars, Archbishop Gerken, with characteristic determination and energy, assumed the leadership in the establishment of the Montezuma Seminary in Las Vegas, in our own state, where hundreds of worthy young men of Mexico have received an education, preparing them for the priesthood of their church, each one returning to Mexico an ambassador of friendship and good will from America to their homes in that wonderful republic where now, fortunately, freedom of worship is permitted.
"Believing that no child in New Mexico should go without an education, Archbishop Gerken on every occasion demonstrated his desire to help foster and further the education, not only of the children of the people of his faith, but of all the faiths, and he constantly encouraged furtherance of education in private, parochial and public schools, as well as in the institutions of higher learning in our state."
About Lourdes School.
Five miles south of Albuquerque is located the Lourdes School, an institution to develop young men of physical vigor, sound scholarship and fine moral character to be "loyal sons of Church and State."
The Lourdes School site in 1999.
Archbishop Gerken also founded a teachers college at Albuquerque and St. Mary’s Convent at Santa Fe.
St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Albuquerque's southeast heights area was first created on June 13, 1934 by announcement of Archbishop Rudolph A. Gerken. On March 21, 1935, St. Charles was dedicated as the fifth Catholic Church built in Albuquerque. Following the laying of the church's cornerstone on October 12, 1934, St. Charles' most tangible "birthday" came quite appropriately at midnight on Christmas Eve. Much as Jesus was celebrated born in the humble surroundings of a stable, the first mass was celebrated in the shell of the St. Charles building then under construction. Among other accomplishments, St. Charles parishioners participated in the construction of a mission church, which is now Our Lady of Fatima Parish. They built Heights Catholic School (now also named Our Lady of Fatima) at the Mission Church. They sponsored creation of the Newman Center at the University of New Mexico.
Work done on the Santa Fe Cathedral.
But the steel rods in the nave did not remedy the situation. Some five years later, engineers realized that the continued cracking at different points and levels was caused by a definite sinking of the great pillars of the nave. The Cathedral was vacated for several months, and services were held at St. Michael’s Gymnasium behind old San Miguel chapel in Analco, while the delicate work went on placing steel jacks beneath each pillar and pumping tons of cement to provide secure footings. Metal reinforcements at the base of each big arch, just above the capitals, were rounded out with cement, and these give the round Romanesque arches the suggestion of Moorish horseshoe ones. Not only had the pillar foundations been defective, but the cylindrical columns themselves had been constructed of uncut rubble instead of carefully cut stone like the outer walls nad other sections. This induced buckling in places which earlier in the century were remedied with forged iron bands, and later on with metal sheaths into which concrete was forced.
Outside, the long gabled roof, which originally had metal shingles painted a dullred, was covered over with flat metal sheets which were painted in the same hue; but now the current pastor had the entire roof painted in a gleaming aluminum, as well as all rain channels and spouts. He also covered the front terrace with flagstones, and planted evergreens to replace two dying acacias which Lamy had planted long ago. He also planted the spruces and cedars along the side which, now grown to large size, help blend the old stone work with the most recent additions in modern concrete.
Inaugurated the annual pontifical procession and solemn Mass.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe and its suffragan sees.
Diocese of Gallup carved from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Night after night when the Chancery staff had left, and behind locked doors, Archbishop Gerken would get out a map and try to figure out how a Diocese could be formed that would carry out the Holy See's wishes that the Indians receive better spiritual care. A similar process was going on in the Diocese of Tucson. The thought was that the northern part of Arizona and the Northwestern part of New Mexico, which contained more Indians than any other similar area in the United States, needed a Bishop who could coordinate the missions and give an episcopal presence to the Indians. At least, they would then have their own advocate whose attention would not be centered in one of the large cities.
The newly formed diocese contained 90,000 square miles and held a population of 50,000 Indians. There were 30,000 Catholics in the total area, including 23,000 Spanish-Americans, 6,000 Anglos and 1,000 Indians. There were 32 priests, 16 of them Franciscan, serving 17 parishes and 56 mission churches. There were three parochial schools, two high schools, an academy, and two hospitals.
Founding of Cristo Rey Parish.
Carved of native New Mexico stone, delicately tinted and showing influences of the religion of the Aztecs as well as Christianity, it is prized as probably the most valuable work of liturgical art in North America. In designing Cristo Rey, the archbishop, having had a high sanctuary built to accommodate the reredos, placed a row of windows across its east wall, above the roof of the nave, so that the morning sun rising over the Sangre de Cristo mountains, illuminates the huge backpiece at high mass.
The Archbishop's Coat of Arms.
Surrounding Archbishop Gerken’s armorial shield are features of the prelate's ceremonial garb and accessories. The banner below the shield expresses the archbishop’s life motto and dedication, "Not me but you, O Lord." Above the heraldic shield is the Lorraine processional cross, the tiara, the mitre, the crosier, and the cincture with twenty tassels.
The bearer's right portion (dexter) of the shield is a cross, also pierced hands symbolic of the crucifixion, and a chapel of worship. The crossed pierced hands are also symbolic of St. Francis after whom the cathedral of Santa Fe is named.
The bearer's left portion (sinister) of the shield is the personal shield of the archbishop. It contains symbols of ancestral significance or personal ideals. The carpenter’s square found in the shield tells of the carpentry trade the Gerken family has followed for generations. The three bees placed with the square recall the military service that the archbishop’s great-grandfather rendered under Napoleon during the ill-fated March to Moscow. To Archbishop Gerken the bee represented "A laborer whose labor converts to sweetness." He added two bees, thus the three bees are representative of the archbishop’s devotion to the Blessed Trinity.
The coat of arms used during Bishop Gerken’s tenure at Amarillo is different than the one he used as archbishop. Superimposed on the gold cross was the red Sacred Heart, symbolic of the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Amarillo. The cincture has twelve tassels, symbolic of the twelve apostles. In the upper section was a roundel as part of the Pope’s coat of arms, signifying the Pope’s creation of the new Amarillo diocese.
Archbishop Gerken helps his sister Thecla.
Archbishop Gerken was not just concerned about his own relations during World War II; the memorial passed by the New Mexico legislature following his death notes that "When the word was flashed to the United States that thousands of young men of New Mexico in the fighting forces of the United States Army, of every faith, had been imprisoned in the Philippine Islands following Bataan and Corregidor, none was more zealous, more active, than Archbishop Gerken in striving, through the channels of the Apostolic Delegate in Washington, and diplomatic avenues available through the Vatican, to extend prompt relief to our soldiers held prisoners by the Japanese."
St. Anne Church.
ARCHBISHOP RUDOLPH A. GERKEN DIES.
The last illness of the archbishop was of little more than five hours. The victim of a stroke, he was found unconscious at 8 a.m. in his bedroom at 219 Cathedral Place, and rushed to the hospital. He was in the act of dressing when he was stricken, said members of his household who found him after hearing him fall. His right side was paralyzed.
For a time it was believed by attending physicians that he had a chance to recover. Dr. Robert O. Brown, at mid-morning, issued the first bulletin on the prelate's condition: "The Archbishop has had a stroke, apparently suffered while dressing this morning. Although several hours later he appeared a little better, it is still too early to tell conclusively as to his condition. We sincerely hope for the best." Although the archbishop showed signs of improvement and had partially recovered speech, after the noon hour he began to sink rapidly and failed to rally when paralysis spread to the respiratory system.
It was the first stroke he had suffered although he had known for some time that he had high blood pressure, physicians said, and had known that death might come at any time.
The body lay in state at the cathedral with a guard of honor made up of members of the Knights of Columbus, and Betty Carter Duffy was specifically requested to sing at that time.
ARCHBISHOP GERKEN LAID TO REST ’NEATH THE ALTAR IN SANTA FE CATHEDRAL.
Archbishop Rudolph A. Gerken was buried Saturday, March 6, 1943, with all of the solemnity of the Roman Catholic church, the seventh metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
100 Participate in Rites.
Archbishop Urban J. Vehr of Denver, in the black vestments of the church in mourning, chanted the Mass. A choir of 50 Mexican students for the priesthood from Montezuma seminary, Las Vegas, New Mexico, which Archbishop Gerken had a leading role in founding, sang the Latin responses. Bishop J. P. Lynch, Dallas, who had ordained the deceased archbishop and consecrated him as a bishop, gave an eloquent English sermon of a biographical nature. Sidney M. Metzger, El Paso, who was to have given the Spanish sermon, was grounded in Kansas as he was flying to Santa Fe and Bishop Mariano Garriga, Corpus Christi, spoke in his place.
Before Bare Altar.
Archbishop Vehr was escorted from La Fonda to the cathedral, mitred and in pontifical vestments, by all of the bishops and priests here for the ceremonies. There were 104 of them.
Guard Band Plays.
Tu es sacerdos in aeternam (a priest forever), the archbishop who by virtue of his ecclesiastical office was pastor of the cathedral parish here, will remain in his church even in death. Immediately after the Mass, the casket was lowered beneath the high altar to be placed in the last vacant space of the crypt reserved therefore the dignitaries of the diocese. His casket was placed in the space over the one of Archbishop Bourgade and next to his predecessor, Archbishop Daeger. Only the prelates and clergy remained for this rite aside from Charles Digneo and a helper employed to seal the crypt.
Brick and mortar followed, as with previous burials, to complete a giant buried block of cement and brick with six coffins sealed inside. Charles Digneo finished a work begun by his father. The elder Digneo, Carlos, was one of the progenitors of the Italian families prominent here and in Albuquerque today who were brought across by Archbishop John B. Lamy to finish the cathedral.
Relatives from Iowa present for the late prelate’s funeral were his brothers Frank and Henry Gerken of Dyersville; his sisters, Mrs. Ed (Laura) Klostermann, Dyersville; Mrs. Clem (Thecla) Bruggemann, Petersburg; Mrs. Ben (Molly) Willenborg, Independence; and his brothers-in-law, Alois Tegeler of Nashua; and Ed Klostermann of Dyersville; and a niece, Mrs. Dick Westhoff, of Monticello.
Archbishop Gerken was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Gerken; his brothers, Rev. Leo Gerken and John B. H. Gerken; and one sister, Adeline, Mrs. Louis Tegeler, of Nashua, Iowa. The following brothers and sisters survive: Henry Gerken and Frank Gerken, both of Dyersville; Molly, Mrs. Ben Willenborg, of Independence; Thecla, Mrs. Clem Bruggemann, Petersburg, Iowa; Laura, Mrs. Ed Klostermann, of Dyersville; William Gerken, of Amarillo, Texas; Oscar Gerken and Ludwig Gerken, both of Happy, Texas; and Olive, Mrs. Wm. Jansen, of Umbarger, Texas. All of his brothers and sisters departed via train Wednesday evening for Santa Fe to attend the funeral.
SIXTEENTH LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO MEMORIALIZES THE LATE
ARCHBISHOP RUDOLPH ALOYSIUS GERKEN, SEVENTH ARCHBISHOP OF SANTA FE.
"BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that in the death of Archbishop Rudolph A. Gerken our state has sustained a loss well nigh irreparable, and our only consolation is that he has been called to his reward, his work here having been finished, and that he has received the accolade promised centuries ago to all those who would persevere unto the end, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant.' Rudolph Aloysius Gerken, an exponent of the democracy that is America, rose, in his lifetime, from humble farm boy to wear the purple ceremonial robes of his church. Now he has joined the immortals of New Mexico, his adopted, well-beloved State. It may be said of him as of the Great Emancipator, 'Now he belongs to the Ages.' "
The information presented here has been pieced together from various sources, primarily from news reports and obituaries that appeared in the Dyersville Commercial (which thoroughly reported Rudolph Gerken's ordination to the priesthood, his later installations as bishop of Amarillo and as archbishop of Santa Fe, and his death), the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and a Santa Fe newspaper following Archbishop Gerken's death in 1943 (the Dyersville newspaper also included a story taken from a newspaper of Santa Fe, New Mexico); The Santa Fe Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi (Fray Angelico Chavez, Santa Fe, N.M.: Schifani Bros. Printing Co., 1987); and Dyersville: Its History and Its People (Rev. Arthur A. Halbach, Milwaukee, Wisc.: St. Joseph Press, 1939, Rpt. 1983.); and "Gerken, Rudolph Aloysius" (Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P., The Handbook of Texas Online, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/GG/fge7.html [Accessed July 12, 1999]).
Information about Cardinal Spellman's dedication of Gerken Hall at Amarillo came from the Amarillo Globe-News, online at http://www.amarillonet.com/stories/091599/fri_091599-8.shtml [accessed January 9, 1999]. Information about Lourdes School came from "Joy Junction - Chapel Renovation," online at http://www.joyjunction.org/renovat.htm [Accessed July 17, 1999]. Information on the formation of the Diocese of Gallup came from "History of the Diocese of Gallup" from Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup, online at http://public.afo.net/fatherjo/history.htm [Accessed July 17, 1999]. Information about St. Charles Borromeo Parish Church History online at http://members.aol.com/stcharlesc/history.htm [Accessed August 21, 1999].
Other sources included a personal interview with Thecla Bruggeman, the archbishop's sister, in 1978, who related the story of how both Rudy and Leo had decided to become priests at the same time without knowledge of each other's decision; an August 21, 1999, e-mail from Giles Gerken, nephew of Archbishop Gerken, who shared some childhood memories of his uncle Rudy; a July 17, 1999, e-mail from Peggy Loucks, granddaughter of Thecla Bruggeman, who related the story of how Thecla was able check on her son Paul (Peggy's father) while he was in the navy at the time of World War II; a family tree of the William Gerken family updated to 1986 by Sister Margaret Gerken, a niece of the archbishop (who based her information on a family tree compiled by Walter Steger, a first cousin of the archbishop, and re-edited by Daniel and Geneva Gerken; interestingly some of the the information has come full circle now as I was the source for Walter Steger as far the early history of the Gerken family in the Dyersville area is concerned); and other pieces of information derived from the Dyersville Commercial and The Handbook of Texas Online.
Giles Gerken also graciously mailed copies of "Senate Joint Memorial No. 6" of the Sixteenth Legislature of the State of New Mexico, "A Joint Memorial Memorializing the Late Archbishop Rudolph A. Gerken, Seventh Archbishop of Santa Fe" and a correspondence from Leroy T. Matthiesen, Retired Bishop of Amarillo, which included a photocopy of articles from a Santa Fe newspaper following the Archbishop's death. Bishop Matthiesen, who was confirmed by the then Bishop Gerken in 1933, is gathering material for a biography of Archbishop Gerken. Some early information indicates that Archbishop Gerken was not always well-received by those expected to serve under him. In Amarillo, Bishop Gerken, of German heritage, is said to have had enemies among the Irish clergy because they had expected one of their own to be appointed the first bishop of Amarillo; in Santa Fe, Archbishop Gerken seems to have had trouble with some French priests who did not feel any accountability to the Archbishop. Bishop Matthiesen plans to further research these events and include them in his book.
Images of Archbishop Gerken and his coat of arms were scanned from The Santa Fe Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, noted above. Images of the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi and Cristo Rey Church in Santa Fe were scanned from 1990 photographs taken during a visit to Santa Fe in 1990. Photograph of St. Anne Church was furnished by Giles Gerken.
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