July 28, 2011
Editor’s Note: The following is the first of a two-part story on the Catholic Museum and Archives Center of the Diocese of Amarillo. The second part, which will include a story on the FBI (Foreign Born Irish), will be published in the Sunday, Aug. 21 issue of The West Texas Catholic.
Amarillo—The Catholic Museum and Archives Center of the Diocese of Amarillo was barely finished in December 1985 when plans began to be formed to increase the building’s size.
“With each passing day, we’re getting closer,” said Ann Weld, curator of the Catholic Museum and Archives Center.
The proposed plan is to add two wings, one on the west and one on the east, that would triple the current 1,500 square foot building. The proposed plan would also include a paved parking lot with a fountain in the center on the south side of the property, according to Weld.
“The Museum Staff, along with Diocesan Development Director Kim Richard, are currently working on securing a matching grant from a private foundation,” she said. “The matching grant would add to current building funds and enable new construction to begin on the west side addition in 2012.”
The added space is necessary for the mission of the Museum, which is to gather, catalogue and exhibit published diocesan histories, letters, documents and artifacts, according to Weld.
“The present museum/archives building, is filled to capacity,” she said. “Furniture and historical materials that cannot be displayed due to lack of space, are being kept in storage. As parishes recognize the value of preserving church history, additional materials will be donated and these need to be made available to qualified researchers of the histories of the parishes, missions and religious, educational and social institutions of the Diocese of Amarillo.”
The Catholic Museum and Archives Center is located at 2200 North Spring, at the entrance of the Bishop DeFalco Retreat Center. The museum is open on Friday mornings from 9:30 to 11:30 and by appointment. There is no admission fee and tours are available, according to Susan Garner, Diocesan Archivist.
“We also encourage parish and diocesan organizations to see our building and the history contained within,” she said.
When visitors walk through the Catholic Museum and Archives Center, they’ll find the continuing history of the Diocese of Amarillo before them.
“From the church at Old Tascosa, which was established in 1876, to St. Mary’s Church in Clarendon, the oldest church in our diocese, to the elevation of St. Mary’s, Amarillo, as the Cathedral Church, our building is a continuous work in progress, telling the story of our diocese, which will note its 85th anniversary next month,” said Weld.
That includes displays on all eight Bishops who have served the Diocese of Amarillo, plus artifacts from Price College, St. Mary’s Academy, Sacred Heart Cathedral and a number of parishes.
There are also artifacts from Father David Dunn, who established 16 parishes throughout the Texas Panhandle/South Plains and a large number of artifacts collected from the former house of four Bishops: Bishops Robert E. Lucey, Laurence J. FitzSimon, John L. Morkovsky and Lawrence M. DeFalco.
Those interested in preserving the history of the Diocese of Amarillo and supporting the expansion of the Catholic Museum and Archives Center are encouraged to join the Catholic Historical Society. Dues are $20 a year and a lifetime membership is $500 per person. The historical society meets four times a year and are scheduled to gather for their next meeting on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 3pm. Father Francisco Perez, Chancellor of the Diocese of Amarillo, will present a program on relics.
“The museum’s new exhibit of 40 relics and certificates of authenticity are in a new display area at the front of the musuem,” said Weld.
For more information on the Catholic Museum and Archives Center of the Diocese of Amarillo, call 381-9866 or Susan Garner at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, 383-2243, ext. 120.