Gallup, Diocese of

views updated


Established Dec. 16, 1939, the Diocese of Gallup (Gallupensis ) is suffragan of the Metropolitan See of Santa Fe, N.M. It embraces 55,468 square miles of northwestern New Mexico and northern half of the state of Arizona, including the Navajo and Hopi Reservations, with a 15 percent Catholic population. The diocese included a larger Native American population than any other diocese in the U.S.

History. The region, proclaimed "the new kingdom of St. Francis" in 1539 by the Franciscan friar Marcos de Niza, is the home of the Pueblo people of Acoma, Laguna, Zuñi, and other villages, the Jicarilla Apaches, located in New Mexico; the Whiteriver Apaches, the Havasupais, Hualapais, and Mohaves; the Pueblo people of the three Hopi Mesas in Arizona; and the Navajos whose reservation extends over 25,000 square miles in both New Mexico and Arizona. When the diocese was established in 1939 it had a population of about 50,000 Native Americans. There were 30,000 Catholics in 1939, including 23,000 Hispanic Americans, 6,000 Caucasian Americans and 1,000 Native Americans.

The first bishop, Bernard T. Espelage, O.F.M., of the Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati, Ohio, was consecrated Oct. 9, 1940. He was succeeded by Jerome J. Hastrich, Auxiliary bishop of Madison, who was installed as second bishop on Dec. 3, 1969. The third bishop, Donald E. Pelotte, S.S.S, Ph.D., of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament of Cleveland, Ohio, and a Native American, was appointed coadjutor bishop of Gallup on Feb. 24, 1986, and succeeded to the see on March 20, 1990. The diocese's 56 parishes and 35 missions are served by 91 diocesan and religious priests, 26 permanent deacons, 13 religious brothers, and 139 religious sisters. The prominent Romanesque cathedral of the Sacred Heart is visible from all highways entering the city of Gallup.

Bibliography: o. fellin, Yahweh, the Voice that Beautifies the Land: A Brief Historical View of the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico (Gallup, NM 1976).

[e. trockur/

a. espelage]