ABOUT OLA CHURCH
of Our Lady of the Assumption
From its inception, our parish, Our Lady of the Assumption, has always
paid close attention to the living liturgy of the Church. The
architect, the late John W. McHugh of Santa Fe, described Our Lady of
the Assumption (OLA) Church as "a simple prayer."
With many simple prayers and lots of hard work, OLA Mission Chapel was
created in the then fast-growing Northeast section of Albuquerque. From
1951 to 1960, the Assumption Mission Chapel, also known as the Quonset
Hut, at 201 Dallas NE, was used as the church. In February of 1954, the
late Archbishop, Most Reverend Edwin V. Byrne, formally established the
parish. Reverend Francis O'Byrne was appointed the first
Again, with planning, hard work, and many simple prayers, the first
phase of the building program for the OLA Parish was completed, and the
dedication of the new convent and school took place in August of 1954.
OLA Parish now had a convent with facilities for six nuns and a
six-room modern school. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
from Monroe, Michigan faithfully served both the parish and the school
for 28 years.
In 1955, Father Philip Blackburn was named pastor of the parish. He
bought a home at 217 Dallas NE, which with the help of parishioners
became the temporary rectory. The completion of the next phase of the
building was completed, and on December 27, 1957 Archbishop Byrne
dedicated the new parish hall. The hall was put to use immediately and
was used as an alternate meeting place for parishioners along with the
Msgr. J.A. Maguire was appointed pastor in the fall of 1958. In early
1960 Msgr. Maguire became ill, and Fr. Benedict Cuesta from Madrid,
Spain, was temporarily assigned to OLA as the pastor. Stability came to
the Parish with the appointment of Fr. Carl Hammer as pastor in June of
Due to the growth of the parish, the Mission Chapel/Quonset Hut could
no longer accommodate the increasing number of parishioners. The
Mission Chapel was also too far away from the rest of the parish plant,
so the parish hall was used for church services until the new church
could be built on the parish plant site. In September of 1960, the move
from the Quonset Hut to the parish hall took place.
Under the leadership of Fr. Carl Hammer, in 1962, the completion of the
second phase of the elementary school occurred and the official parish
rectory was established. In early 1963, an open house was held for the
In preparation for the building of the actual church, Fr. Hammer and
the parish finance committee reviewed the various fund drive
possibilities. A tithing program was agreed upon and all the
parishioners were notified. The program was a huge success and provided
the money to begin the construction of the new church. The general
contractor, Blue and Associates, completed the church in 1965. Our Lady
of the Assumption Church was dedicated and blessed by the late
Archbishop James P. Davis on May 30, 1965.
The church was built with the purpose of providing a large worship
space while still bringing the altar and the people closer together.
The brightly colored reredos of textile fabric were created and
installed as background to the altar. The wall of the reredos was made
in the 18th century vicarage of Hythe in Kent, England, by David Holt
in the workshop of Gerald Holtom.
The design of the reredos consists of five main themes: the creation
and fall, the idea of sacrifice, grace, virtue, and the sacraments -
all of which relate to the Eucharist. The reredos, the design of the
marble altar and sanctuary, and the use of a Eucharistic chapel were
considered innovative at the time; in fact, our church was the first
church building in the Archdiocese to reflect the liturgical changes of
the Second Vatican Council.
The stained glass windows and the 172 small windows in the OLA church
were designed and executed by the late Professor John Tatschi, a
professor at the University of New Mexico. The large stained glass
window in the chapel is very symbolic. It pictures Christ in the
winepress, which symbolizes his passion and death on the cross. In the
Last Supper, Christ offered himself to be sacrificed on Good Friday; he
redeemed us by this sacrifice of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.
The priest, in Mass vestments, holds a chalice to receive Christ's
blood, and this teaches us that all of the graces of our redemption
come to us through the Mass, the Eucharistic sacrifice. The wine
barrels signify that the Church is the mystical wine cellar, where the
redemptive Eucharistic graces are stored to be distributed to her
Fr. Hammer led the OLA Parish for 15 years, from 1960 to 1975. In March
of 1975, Fr. John Rebold became pastor and stayed until 1980. Under Fr.
Rebold's leadership, the first Vietnamese Catholic Community was
founded in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
In 1980, Fr. Ronald Bruckner was assigned as pastor. His visionary
style of recognizing the need to expand the parish facilities moved the
parish offices from the rectory to the convent building. Fr. Bruckner
oversaw the addition to the parish office of the Merrifield Meeting
Room, which was completed in 1985.
After seven years Fr. Bruckner was assigned as pastor of our "sister
parish," Our Lady of the Annunciation. In June of 1987, Fr. Luis
Jaramillo became pastor. Under the leadership of Fr. Jaramillo, many
additional changes were made to the parish of "my dear and beautiful
people," primarily the strengthening of the Hispanic ministry and
Spanish Mass. The cry room in the church proper was reconstructed and
completed in 1993. Fr. Jaramillo was our pastor and liturgical leader
for 15 years until his retirement in June of 2002.
Shortly after Fr. Jaramillo came to OLA, Fr. Mike Cimino was assigned
as Parochial Vicar and has been with OLA ever since. Many people have
often referred to Fr. Mike as a "saint" on earth. He faithfully
celebrates Mass, hears confessions, visits shut-ins at hospitals and
nursing homes, makes home visits, counsels parishioners, and
participates in school activities. Fr. Mike is truly loved and
appreciated for his devoted service to Our Lady of the Assumption
Father Edward C. Domme was assigned as pastor of OLA Parish in July of
2002. As a past graduate of OLA School, and coming from one of the
parish founding families, he is a homegrown product of Our Lady of the
Since Fr. Domme's arrival, OLA Parish and school have seen many welcome
improvements and changes. Most recently, in preparation for the 50th
anniversary, two sites in the parish were improved. A reconstruction of
the roof of the cry room was completed, and a large bronze sculpture of
Our Lady of the Assumption was installed above the cry room
entrance. In addition, with the support of the Knights of
Columbus, a beautiful grotto was built on the north side of the church
to honor Our Lady, in whose name this church was dedicated.
Indeed, the history of our much loved church and school reflects the
strong leadership of each of our pastors and the vibrant faith of the
entire OLA community. The original architect of OLA church was correct
when he described it as the result of "a simple prayer."