Ash Wednesday is Wednesday, February 26th. Masses and distribution of ashes will be at 6am, 8am, 12pm, 5pm and 7pm.

History of St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church

By Deacon Gene Tuma

Little Story about St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in Paradise Hills By Deacon Gene Tuma

It was in the fall of 1961 that Herb and Dorothy Schuster (my wife Arlyne’s parents), moved from the east side of Albuquerque to a new residential area being developed on the West Mesa of Albuquerque. This residential area was named “Paradise Hills”. At that time, there were only a few homes built in Paradise Hills and her parents were truly pioneers to make that move into a residential area that was just beginning.

The few Catholic families that lived in Paradise Hills attended Sunday Mass at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish which was located in the community of Alameda. Arlyne and I, our son Jim and daughter Chris were living in Gallup at the time and would drive to her parent’s home every weekend and would attend Mass with them at Nativity Parish in Alameda.

In 1965, I was informed that my office in Gallup would close and the staff would be transferred to a new Federal facility in Albuquerque. We decided to establish our home in Paradise Hills and had a home built not too distant from Arlyne’s parents. Each Sunday all the family attended Mass at Nativity Parish. Arlyne’s Dad was the Organist and Choir Director at that parish during that time.

To our surprise after Mass one Sunday, the pastor informed the families living in Paradise Hills that Archbishop Davis had decided they would be under the Pastoral leadership of Msgr. Tito Melendez of San Ysidro Parish located in the village of Corrales just north of Alameda.

As a result, the family members asked Msgr. Melendez if it would be possible to have Sunday Mass celebrated in a small Community Building in Paradise Hills. He agreed to have a priest made available on Sundays to provide that service. The Community Building was then made available for Sunday Mass. It was necessary for the members to open the building and setup the altar and chairs prior to the beginning of Mass.

The Community Building was used for Sunday Mass for some time and the people were very happy to have the opportunity to come together to celebrate the Eucharist in “their own place.”

One Sunday morning the members, responsible for opening the building, found a large spot of blood on the floor. There had been a dance in the building on Saturday night and someone had been stabbed. To be sure it was not the kind of thing the members wanted to experience. After cleaning up the mess, Arlyne’s mom made the comment, “We need to have a church.” That began the effort to have a building that the members could call “their own.”

Arlyne’s uncle, Lambert Krueger had passed away. He owned a residential lot in the Knolls addition of Paradise Hills and had left that lot of land to Arlyne’s mom who decided to ask Archbishop James Peter Davis to grant permission to raffle the lot to begin a building fund program for a new building. The Archbishop gave his permission and the building fund project got under way.

During that time, the Catholic families continued to celebrate Mass in the Community Building as well as conduct religious education classes for the youth. The men of the faith community took it upon themselves to contact various Pastors within the area seeking permission to sell the raffle tickets after each of their Masses on Sunday.

The building fund grew, not tremendously, but grew through their efforts resulting in a commitment made to construct a metal all-purpose building on the land that had been donated by Horizon Corporation, a developer of Paradise Hills. The Extension Society provided a sum of money as well to enable the building to be constructed. It was the Extension Society that provided two names to be considered for the parish. One of them was St. Jude Thaddeus which was unanimously selected by the faith community. The building was erected in 1968 and in 1969 this small community became a quasi-parish under the leadership of Father Thomas Keane who was the Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish located in Rio Rancho, a newly developing community north of Paradise Hills. It was in April of 1977 that Archbishop Robert F. Sanchez elevated the community as a parish in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

The parish continued to grow rapidly and the need for a larger church facility brought about the blessing and ground breaking ceremony for the new facility on March 16, 1980. By late fall, the new church was completed and on December 13, 1980 the church was dedicated. By the donations and hard work of parishioners, and many friends, the debt of the church building was paid off in 1985. What a joy it was to have a regular church facility to accommodate the increasing number of parishioners in the parish.

As the parish grew, Father John Conway, Pastor, decided that there was a need to build a Parish Hall that would provided adequate class rooms for the ever growing Religious Education program and a large space that could seat several hundred parishioners and an adequate kitchen to be used for many parish functions. The hall was dedicated by Archbishop Michael Sheehan in 1993. It was in 1993 that the parish rectory was also built.

The number of parishioners continued to increase in the years that followed. Paradise Hills by that time was a well established community expanding its growth to its further west side. Every Sunday the church membership filled the church for each of the Masses. Once again, the need to a have a church with greater seating capacity became a concern since the current church only seated 700 people. Under the Pastoral leadership of Father John C. Daniel, a request was submitted to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to approve the building of a larger church. Approval was granted to proceed with the planning and construction of a new facility. The design of the new church needed to be such that it would accommodate approximately 1,300 people. The parish community was involved in providing input that they would like to have incorporated many of the features of the previous church in its design. Their input was acknowledged including the installation of the large stained glass cross that adorned the front of the old church, all the interior lights and the stain glass windows were incorporated into the design of the new church facility. Parishioners were excited to see the progress being made through their building fund effort and enthusiasm grew as they partook in the ground breaking ceremony for the new building in October 26, 2010. The new church was dedicated on October 28, 2011 and as expected, the 1,300 seats are nearly filled to capacity at the weekend Masses.

The number of families in the Parish has grown to about 2,300 (Editor’s note: The current number of registered families is 3,750!) . Many ministries have been instituted in the parish to provide the parishioners with many spiritual activities. Parishioners are involved making the parish a very viable and active community.

Thinking back to the 1960’s the Catholic families wished to have “their own” church building began when they found blood on the floor of the old Community Building from a stabbing that had taken place the night before Mass helped their wish become a reality.

On Sunday, April 28, 2013 a horrific event took place in St. Jude Thaddeus Church. A young man leaped over the pews and headed directly toward the Choir Director and began stabbing him. Only the Good Lord knows what his reasoning was. The Director was severely injured and another choir member who attempted to protect him was also severely injured by the assailant. Because of this horrible action the church was blessed again by Archbishop Michael Sheehan. The injured Choir Director and the other choir member faithfully returned to the choir for which the faith community is most grateful.

This ends the little story of St. Jude Thaddeus Parish. The number of parishioners continues to increase and the Eucharistic liturgies celebrated on the weekend are faithfully attended as the parish community continues to grow with much love and appreciation for everything that has been offered and continues to be offered out of love.

Thank you Deacon Gene and Arlyne Tuma for your many contributions to St. Jude Parish!