Posted by: rbbadger | August 26, 2008

Monsignor Stadtmueller

The Diocese of Gallup and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe have had their share of colourful characters, a few of which I got to know well.  One of the most colourful of these characters, Monsignor Fred Stadtmueller, died this past Friday at the age of 95.  He was very active up into his late 80s, which was when I first got to know him.  Seminarians sometimes have an inordinate fascination with church gossip and Monsignor Stadtmueller was for me a virtual treasure trove of stories about the priests, bishops, and archbishops of New Mexico, all of which were delivered in heavily German-accented English with liberal amounts of Teutonic humour.  He, like many of us today, bemoaned the truly sorry state that some religious communities of women have come into in America.  Some of these sisters were frequent targets of Monsignor’s biting wit.  Monsignor was also something of a critic of some of the policies of Archbishop Edwin Vincent Byrne (Archbishop from 1943 to 1963).  “He didn’t have his feet on the ground!”  But that being said, he was always ready to praise Archbishop Byrne’s good points and recognised him as a good and devoted bishop, however much he may have disagreed with his policies.  Father Pat Universal reminded of something that I will not likely forget, namely Monsignor’s first words to me upon hearing my name.  “In Germany, we shoot badgers!”

He saw quite a bit of history.  Coming to America in 1928, he passed through Ellis Island.  When I asked him where he was from, his first response was “ve are from New Jersey”!  He may have spent more time in America than he spent in his native land, but he never quite lost the accent.  He served the Archdiocese of Santa Fe at a time when it had its second American-born bishop, Archbishop Rudolph Gerken.  From 1850 until 1918, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was run by French-born missionary bishops, two of whom helped build the Diocese of Tucson (Salpointe and Bourgade). 

In 1940, Monsignor was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe by then-Archbishop (later Cardinal) Amleto Cicognani, at the time Apostolic Delegate to the USA and later Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See (the Vatican).  Monsignor Stadtmueller served many, many parishes in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe including one mission which required him to obtain a pilot’s license just in order to serve it.  There are many stories about how Monsignor would take people from the mission for rides in his airplane.  He later gave up flying, but he didn’t give up driving until ill health forced him to.

At some point in his retirement, he moved into the territory of the Diocese of Gallup.  As a part of his retirement activities, he would help out wherever he could and fill for priests who had to be away.  He kept this up even into his late 80s.  I was amazed at his capacity to drive for long distances on his own at that age. 

Monsignor was an extremely dedicated priest and will be remembered with great fondness by the people of the Diocese of Gallup, I am sure, not to mention by many in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.  Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.  May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

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Responses

  1. “We shoot badgers!” That’s as good as “We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers” or “I roped a badger once–and I drug him to death.” Oh, the colorful characters we know!

    Can you send me any pictures of you in Korea? I’m doing a slide show for the Peterson reunion. It would be nice to have a picture everybody! Maybe I could get Megan to photoshop your head on that Buddha postcard or something. 🙂

    Have a great day! Love, Mama

  2. Very good, Robert! Sounds just like him. Can’t wait to catch up with him in the great beyond, and to hear more of his stories!

    Bless you!
    Father Joe


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