Monday, January 9, 2012

Chickasha, OK Catholic Church

On a trip through Chickasha, Oklahoma I saw this beautiful Catholic Church building. I always want to know more when I see a building with such great details. I snapped these photos to share with you. The Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church was built in 1926, the work of architect Harold Gimeno. Many view it as his most beautiful design. The basilica-type church is noted for its beautiful rose window and its sixty foot tall gothic bell tower. It was constructed of red brick with limestone highlights. It marked Gimeno’s largest commission. Gimeno was the son of a noted artist at the University of Oklahoma, and received a Masters in Architectural Engineering from Harvard. He established his practice in Norman, Oklahoma around 1925, and his work can be viewed in several homes, fraternities and a theater in Norman, Oklahoma. The interior of the Church is likewise a work of art. Beautiful marble altars and statues filled the cavernous interior. Over the years, the church building has been modernized and updated, most noticeably the ornate marble altar pieces and floors. But the building structure with it's beautiful stained glass windows remains the same.

Holy Name Catholic Church in Chickasha, Oklahoma, began as a small mission to the Indians surrounding that area. The story of the beginnings of that Parish, is largely the story of the first priest who served there. Reverend Urban Alphonse de Hasque was born in Antwerp, Belgium, on July 16, 1875. He had never intended to become a missionary to the American Indians, but a young missionary Bishop, Theophile Meerschaert, persuaded Father de Hasque and several others to assist him in organizing new parishes, building churches and schools, and securing financial assistance for those projects.

It soon became Father de Hasque’s role, to make Catholic history in a land that was once but a name on a map to him. He began recording the history of the Catholic Church there, and published the first parochial bulletin ever issued in the diocese, dated 1905, called "The official publication of the Holy Name of Jesus (Catholic) Church." On its cover, the booklet carried a picture of the little white frame church that had been dedicated on May 15,1898, by Bishop Meerschaert. Father de Hasque was appointed as pastor of the Holy Name of Jesus Church, at Chickasha, in 1901. There he began his duties as a missionary to the Indians in this part of the Indian Territory.

Confronted with the problem that the church in Chickasha possessed only a quit claim deed to a block of property, with a two-story school building on it, Father de Hasque moved rapidly to put his new parish affairs in order. He had the church building (which stood on another lot) moved to the actual location of the property in question, then petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to appraise the entire school block to the Catholic Church. At that time, the twenty-eight lots in the block were appraised at the sum of $1,172! The full amount for this property was raised in the following years by annual bazaars put on by ladies of the Church.

He continued to minister to the Chickasaws in the Territory, and managed to overcome their hostility to the White man among them. At the end of 1905 there were twenty Chickasaws enrolled in the parish school. He resigned his pastorate in Chickasha in 1912, at the request of Bishop Meerschaert, to become Chancellor of the diocese, a post he was to fill for six years. Father de Hasque built and dedicated churches throughout the Southwestern part of Oklahoma.

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