While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P.

GERKEN, RUDOLPH ALOYSIUS (1887–1943). Rudolph Aloysius Gerken, first Catholic bishop of Amarillo, one of thirteen children of William and Elizabeth (Sudmeier) Gerken, was born in Dyersville, Iowa, on March 7, 1887. He attended Pio Nono College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and graduated from St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana. He subsequently moved to Texas and from 1910 to 1912 taught in the public school at Scotland. Through the encouragement of Bishop Joseph Patrick Lynch of Dallas, he began studies for the priesthood while teaching at the old University of Dallas and at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. On June 10, 1917, he was ordained a priest in Sacred Heart Cathedral of Dallas by Bishop Lynch. From 1917 to 1927 he served as pastor of churches at Abilene and Ranger and was instrumental in building new churches, schools, missions, and rectories in various sections of West Texas and the Panhandle. On April 26, 1927, Gerken was consecrated the first bishop of the new Catholic Diocese of Amarillo. During his six-year administration of the diocese, he built twenty churches, thirteen rectories, six schools, three hospitals, a convent, and four homes for teachers. He also opened St. George's (later Price) College in 1928 and served as its first president. On August 23, 1933, Bishop Gerken was named archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, a position he held for the rest of his life. He died at St. Vincent's Hospital in Santa Fe on March 2, 1943, after suffering a stroke.

Amarillo Daily News, March 3, 1943. Who's Who in America, 1934–35.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Sister M. Claude Lane, O.P., "GERKEN, RUDOLPH ALOYSIUS," accessed July 13, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fge07.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...