|Reference style||The Most Reverend|
|Spoken style||His Excellency|
Rudolph Gerken was born in Dyersville, Iowa, as the sixth of the seven children of William and Elizabeth (née Sudmeier) Gerken. However, in 1889, his mother died and William then married Carolina Wuebbelt, with whom he had six more children. Raised on a farm, Gerken studied at Pio Nono College in St. Francis, Wisconsin, and St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana. He moved to Texas, where he taught in Scotland public schools from 1910 to 1912.
Gerken later decided, through the encouragement of Bishop Joseph Lynch, to embark on an ecclesiastical career whilst teaching at the University of Dallas; his brother Leo also became a priest. He studied theology at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where he also taught languages, before being ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Lynch on June 10, 1917. He then served as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Abilene (1917–1919) and of St. Rita's Church in Ranger (1919–1926), and was made dean and consultor of the Diocese of Dallas in 1924.
On August 25, 1926, Gerken was appointed the first Bishop of Amarillo, Texas by Pope Pius XI. He received his episcopal consecration on April 26, 1927 from Bishop Lynch, with Bishops Christopher Byrne and Francis Kelley serving as co-consecrators, in Sacred Heart Cathedral. He assumed as his episcopal motto, "Not me but you, O Lord." During his tenure in Amarillo, Gerken oversaw the construction of thirty-five churches and founded Price Memorial College, of which he was also president.
He was named the seventh Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico on June 2, 1933. As Archbishop, Gerken established another diocese and several parishes, sought to provide relief to American prisoners of war in Japan during World War II, and presided over the marriage of actress Jane Wyatt and Edgar Ward in 1935.
|Catholic Church titles|
| Bishop of Amarillo
Robert Emmet Lucey
Albert Daeger, OFM
| Archbishop of Santa Fe