February 5, 2011
Established: According to diocesan records, St. Laurence Church was created as a parish on May 16, 1955. St. Laurence Church was designated by the Holy See as the cathedral of the Diocese of Amarillo on Nov. 10, 1974. After extensive renovation, St. Laurence Cathedral was dedicated on Oct. 5, 1975.
Priests who served St. Laurence Church/St. Laurence Cathedral: The first pastor of St. Laurence Church was Father Leroy T. Matthiesen, who became the sixth Bishop of Amarillo on May 30, 1980. Other priests that served St. Laurence include Monsignor A.M. Bottoms, Monsignor Richard Vaughan Monsignor Norbert Kuehler, Monsignor Rex Nicholl, Monsignor Ray Crosier, Monsignor James Comiskey, Father Bart Besterci, Father Rupert Schindler, Father Dermot O’Brien and Father Malcolm Neyland. Other priests who served St. Laurence Cathedral include Monsignor Harold Waldow, Father Ed Sweeney, Father Patrick Hoffman, Father John Huy, CMC, Father Norbert Kieferle, Father Ramiro Trejo, OFM, Cap., and Father Arturo Meza. Since April 23, 2001, the parish has been staffed by priests from the Order of Franciscan Minor, based in Mexico. Those priests who have served St. Laurence Cathedral include Fathers Guillermo Ventura, Adalberto Ramirez, Fernando Urenzio, Gabriel Cariel, Juan Rubio and Adán Vallejo.
First Mass: The first Mass celebrated at St. Laurence Church took place on Dec. 2, 1959, when the church was blessed by Bishop John L. Morkovsky, the fourth Bishop of Amarillo. The first Mass at St. Laurence Cathedral was its dedication Mass on Oct. 5, 1975, celebrated by Bishop Lawrence M. DeFalco, the fifth Bishop of Amarillo.
First Baptism: The first Baptism after the creation of St. Laurence Church was of Mary Frances Blood, daughter of Robert and Phyllis Blood, by then-Father Leroy T. Matthiesen, on June 5, 1955. The first Baptism after the dedication of St. Laurence Cathedral was of Deborah Renee Pollakowski, daughter of Anna and Steven Pollakowski, by Father (now Monsignor) Raymond Crosier on Oct. 26, 1975.
First Wedding: The first wedding after the creation of St. Laurence Church took place on Aug. 8, 1955 between Joseph Carl Schanzenbach and Iva K. Taylor, witnessed by then-Father Leroy T. Matthiesen. The first wedding after the dedication of St. Laurence Cathedral took place Oct. 11, 1975 between Eugene Thomas Hickman and Eleanor F. Finney Brassfield, witnessed by then-Father (now Monsignor) Norbert Kuehler.
First Funeral: The first funeral after the creation of St. Laurence Church was that of Kemper Virginius Roller, 80, who passed away Nov. 8, 1955, with then-Father Leroy. T. Matthiesen presiding. The first funeral after the dedication of St. Laurence Cathedral was that of Grace C. Sherrill, 87, who passed away Dec. 18, 1975, with then-Father (now Monsignor) Norbert Kuehler presiding.
Notable events that have occurred at St. Laurence Church/St. Laurence Cathedral…include the Funeral Mass for Bishop Lawrence M. DeFalco, fifth Bishop of Amarillo on Sept. 25, 1979 and the Ordination Masses for a number of priests, including Monsignors Harold Waldow, Joe Bixenman and Michael Colwell and Fathers Ken Keller, John Valdez, Phu T. Phan and Robert A. Busch.
Did You Know? Monsignor Norbert Kuehler has the record for the longest tenure as pastor at St. Laurence. He was appointed pastor on May 27, 1964 and served until June 30, 1986, for a total of 22 years, one month and three days.