About our Parishes

St. Joseph and Holy Trinity: Humble beginnings

      In 1910, Aztec, New Mexico was one of the numerous missions assigned to Rev. Fr. Albert Daeger, OFM, who later became Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1945, Catholic families in Aztec led by Juan Padia and Martin Trujillo initiated fundraising to build a church on donated land. Construction was completed in the latter part of 1946. A generous donor chose St. Joseph to be the patron of the parish church. The bishop of Gallup at that time, the Most Rev. Bernard Espelage, dedicated St. Joseph Church on January 1, 1947. Rev. Fr. Anthony Kroll, OFM was appointed the first official pastor of St. Joseph Church in 1954. Then came other Franciscan priests Rev. Fr. Gerard Geier in 1961; Rev. Fr. Herbert Effler in 1964; and Rev. Fr. Gregg Petri in 1977.                                                                                                                                                  In 1981, about 7 miles away from St. Joseph Church, the idea of establishing a parish church in Flora Vista was beginning to take root. A survey revealed that a religious education program was needed in the area. Masses were celebrated at a building belonging to Joe Chavez Construction, officiated mostly by a retired priest, Rev. Fr. Tony Schwartz. In 1985, the property of the present church facilities was purchased. Rev. Fr. Oliver Curran was appointed to celebrate the Masses in Flora Vista. On May 25, 1986, Holy Trinity Catholic Church was dedicated on the Solemnity of the Feast of the Holy Trinity by the Most Rev. Jerome Hastrich, D.D., Bishop of Gallup. Rev. Fr. David Wallersheim was appointed pastor of Holy Trinity in 1989, followed by Rev. Fr. Jeff King in 1991 up to 1995.                                                                                                                                            At St. Joseph Parish, Rev. Fr. Owen Gehring replaced Rev. Fr. Gregg Petri. Fr. Owen stayed until his retirement in 1990, after which Rev. Fr. Daniel Hussey was appointed to replace him. In 1995, the parish was clustered with Holy Trinity Parish in Flora Vista, New Mexico. Rev. Fr. Luis Garcia became pastor of both parishes from 1996 to 1998. The Most Rev. Donald Pelotte celebrated the Church’s 50th anniversary in 1996 when he was Bishop of Gallup.                                                                                                                                    Rev. Fr. Arley Downey, a retired priest, helped fill in by celebrating Masses at St. Joseph and Holy Trinity parishes until he moved from the area in April 2015. 

                                                                                                                                                                     In 1999, Fr. Joachim Blonski was appointed pastor of both parishes. A building across St. Joseph Church was purchased in 2000, to house the parish office for St. Joseph and Holy Trinity. It is named Father Owen Center to honor the late Fr. Owen Gehring.

     Rev. Fr. Mike Kugler, Rev. Fr. Dan Kassis, Rev. Fr. Tim Cervantes, and Rev. Fr. Tom Otto assisted in serving the two parishes for short terms. 

     Rev. Fr. Thomas Pudota was the first international priest to serve St. Joseph and Holy Trinity. The Diocese appointed him Parochial Administrator in 2010, working under Rev. Fr. James Walker who served as Canonical Pastor covering the San Juan Deanery parishes. Fr. Walker was later replaced by Rev. Fr. Robert Mathieu as head of the deanery.

     In 2013, Rev. Fr. Kingsley George-Obilonu, another international priest, became Pastoral Administrator of St. Joseph and Holy Trinity. When he moved to Oklahoma, Rev. Fr. David Tate, who was ordained at the Diocese of Gallup in 2015, was appointed Parish Administrator. 

     The Most Rev. Bishop James Wall celebrated St. Joseph Church’s 70th Anniversary and Holy Trinity Church’s 30th Anniversary in October 2016. (Click the photo below to view the rest of our Anniversary photos.)