Gallup, N.M., Mar 29, 2018 / 10:21 am
As the Catholic Church prepares to receive thousands of Catholic converts this Easter, Sacred Heart Cathedral in Gallup, N.M., is preparing to receive seven. Gallup's bishop says he is grateful to celebrate the Triduum in a place many describe as the "periphery" of American culture.
"We go back to the first Mass being celebrated here in 1539 by the Franciscan friar, Marcos de Nizo, down at the Zuni Pueblo," Bishop James Wall of Gallup told CNA, referring to a Native American village about 40 miles outside of Gallup.
"They were some of the first people to receive the good news here, so it's important that [this] culture and that act of worship and praise of God in the Church's liturgy is present," he told CNA.
Wall has served as Gallup's bishop for nine years. The diocese includes territory in New Mexico and Arizona, over 55,000 square miles, with 53 parishes, 5 social centers, and 13 schools. Native American reservations comprise much of its territory. 64,250 Catholics live in the diocese, 12.5 percent of the area's total population.
Wall said the diocese includes Hispanic families living in the area for 14 or 15 generations, along with one of the country's highest diocesan populations of Native Americans. The diocese has extraordinary poverty rates. Census data shows that more than 25 percent of people in the diocese live in poverty, compared to a national average near 13 percent. In some areas of the diocese, particularly on reservations, the poverty rate climbs even higher.
Wall said the community, though poor, is generous, and contributes musical talents and artistic gifts to celebrate the Easter Triduum.