Rudolph Gerken

Rudolph Aloysius Gerken (March 7, 1887—March 2, 1943) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Santa Fe from 1933 until his death.

Styles of
Rudolph Gerken
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Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleHis Excellency
Religious styleMonsignor
Posthumous stylenone


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.

The Archbishop, after suffering a stroke that left his right side paralyzed, died at St. Vincent's Hospital in Santa Fe, only five days shy of his fifty-sixth birthday.

He was a Rotarian and was known to quote Aristotle and St. Francis of Assisi.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Amarillo
Succeeded by
Robert Emmet Lucey
Preceded by
Albert Daeger, OFM
Archbishop of Santa Fe
Succeeded by
Edwin Byrne

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