(The history and older photos on this page are from the Fidencio Baca collection.)


Yesterday and Today

      Over 100 years ago the newly formed mission of St. Peter celebrated it's first Mass.   As Springerville grew so did our parish.   In 1890, land was purchased and our first church was built. Continued growth led to the construction of our current church in1946 and our parish center in 1966.   (See history and photos below.)

        Over the decades our parish facilities have undergone many renovations.   With each needed alteration our forebears met the challenge of change and continued to move forward in faith, laying foundations for the future.   Their example has given witness to their faith and dedication to one another, to their church, and to Christ.

        Today, St. Peter's is an active and vibrant community comprised of  270 households.   Led by a dedicated group of staff members and volunteers, there are a variety  of ways that people of all ages can participate in the life of our church, be it spiritually, educationally, service to others, and through the various social ministries and activities of our church.

        All of our programs, ministries, and activities have the same goals - to build up the body of Christ, to strengthen our bonds as a community and to serve others more effectively in the name of Christ, so that our parish will continue to lay the foundation for an even more fruitful and faithful future.


Catholic Church in Springerville
Father Pedro Maria Badilla
(This history and the photos are from the Fidencio Baca collection.)
     When the Spanish settlers first arrived in Valle Redondo (Round Valley) between 1870 and 1876 they brought their faith with them,  the Roman Catholic faith.  No Catholic priest accompanied them as had been the case when the Spanish conquistadors settled along the Rio Grande.  The nearest Catholic church where they could be baptized or get married was Socorro, New Mexico, or the Mission Church in Zuni, New Mexico.
     The Spanish people of Valle Redondo kept their faith by gathering in different homes for  veloRios, rosarios, and the re-enactment of the Posadas.
     The first priest was Pedro Maria Badilla who was born in Costa Rica, Central America, on the 29th of June 1827. He was ordained on the 8th day of December at Lion in Nicaragua.   He then became parish priest at Punta Arenas, Puerto Pacifico.   He was then sent to Santa Barbara, a city not too far from Punta Arenas.   He first went to London, Liverpool and Manchester.   He then went to Paris, and then on to Marcella and Tolon, and then on to Rome where he hoped to receive the blessing of Pope Pius IX.   He was not able to obtain an audience with the Pope at that time so he returned to Costa Rica via New York.   He left Costa Rica and went to Los Angeles, California.   Bishop Mora of Los Angeles sent him to Tucson Arizona.   In 1880, the Bishop of Tucson, J. B. Salpointe assigned him to go to the Apache-Navajo highlands (Apache County) - His orders were to proceed to St. Johns and establish in that community, the Catholic headquarters for that area.   
     Father Badilla arrived in St. Johns on the 2nd of August in 1880.   On the 3rd of August he celebrated Mass at the home of Dona Dolores Gallegos St. Johns was then called San Juan as it had been named in honor of Maria Baca de San Juan.   Father Badilla named the Catholic Church San Juan de Bautista in honor of St. John the Baptist.


     Father Badilla then went to Concho and established a Catholic church there naming it San Rafael, and then went to Valle Redondo (Springerville) and built a church there calling it St. Peters.  The first Catholic Church in Valle Redondo was located at the foot of what is now Cemetery Hill in Springerville.


Later, a better and bigger church was built on 
 the site where the Baptist Church is now.
Catholic Church that used to be where the Baptist Church is now.


The facade was destroyed in a fire.
The present Catholic church building was built on the site of what used to be the J. J. Baca Hall.   Before the hall burned down it was used for silent movies and dances.

 Mr. J. J. Baca donated the land to the church.   Jenano Acosta, a native of St. Johns was the architect.


In 1949 the church was renovated when a propane heater exploded and damaged the facade and walls.   This is how the building looked prior to it's recent  removal in conjunction with the new church construction.




(This photo courtesy of Pat Christensen)

Our present church as renovated after the fire.



This beautiful new church building was completed and dedicated in July 2003. 



(This photo courtesy of Pat Christensen)


     On the 12 of April of 1901, after celebrating Mass at St. Johns, Father Badilla and Senor Cruz Navarette left for Concho.   He became ill on the way to Concho but be persisted in saying Mass on the 13th and the I4th of April.   While celebrating Mass on the 14th of April at San Rafael Church in Concho he fainted on the alter steps.

     A telegram was sent to his Excellency, H. Granjon of Tucson telling him of the grave illness of Father Badilla.   The Bishop then wired the Rev. Cipriano Babre from the parish of Flagstaff to go to St. Johns immediately and administer the last rites of the Church to Father Badilla.   Father Badilla passed away on the 3rd of May of 1901.   Before his death, Father Badilla ordered that a crucifix and  a statue of the Holy Mother be placed near him.   His last words were "Jesus Cristo es Rel del Cielo y nacio en un pesebre."   On the 4th day of May the Catholic people of Concho accompanied the body of Father Badilla to St. Johns.

     Waiting in St. Johns to receive the body were the Catholic people of St Johns and the Catholic people of Valle Redondo (Springerville).   Many Mormon and Protestant people attended the funeral of Father Badilla as this man was highly respected by people of all faiths.

Catholic Church in Springerville

  • In 1927 the J. J. Baca family donated the land for the present church building.
  • In 1927 the Herbella family donated the pews.
  • In 1946 the rectory was established in the old J. J. Baca home.
  • In 1949 the church was renovated when a propane heater exploded and damaged the walls.
  • In 1957 Community center built.
  • The gold plated Tabernacle was donated by the Herbella Family.
  • The old pedal organ was donated by Dona Carlota Baca de Candelaria
  • Statue of St. Joseph donated by Mr. and Mrs. Joe Baca.
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help donated by Mr. and Mrs. Gregorio Baca.
  •  The statue of St. Therese was donated by Mrs. Harris Miller.
  • The Statue of St. Anthony was donated by Alexander J. McKay
  • The angel with the Conch Shell (for holding Holy Water) was donated by Mrs. Harris Miller.
  • Statue of the Sacred Heart was donated by Ramon Almondoz.
  • Statue of San Luis 
The Catholic Church in Springerville
Note: The Springerville Catholic parish had twelve missionary priests.
Missionary priests:
Rev. Pedro Maria Badilla  (1880)
Rev. Cipriano Vabre
Rev. F. Dirichment
Rev. Ponds
Rev Luis Fernandez
Rev. Angel
Rev Fernandez
Rev. E. J. MacCarthy
Rev, Malachacques
Rev. Quinten
Rev. Michael
Rev. O' Hem
Resident Priests:
Rev. Lambrick  (1945)
Rev. P, Eberle
Rev. Newton
Rev. P. Eberle
Rev. Claud
Rev. Barnabus
Rev. J. P. Brackett
Rev. E.J. Fitzpatric
Rev. Burns
Rev Fennel
Rev. Jose
Rev. Jerri Mesley
Rev. Noel Carroll  (1982)
Msgr. Leo Gomez 
Rev. Edward Quintana 
Rev. Robert Mathieu 
Rev. Patrick Universal
Fr. Roelito Dyzon
Fr. Michael Kugler
Fr. Kingsley George-Obilonu  (2009 - 2012)
Fr. Edwin Bryan Diesen


The above history and older photos are from the Fidencio Baca Collection.

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