Mission to Arizona, 1916-1940: Father Augustine Schwarz, O.F.M.

Mission to Papaguería: Chapel for Indians, at Ajo Copper Mine


photograph
LAB MSS-153/20:97

Ajo was a copper mining town located on the western edge of the Papago Reservation. In 1973, James Griffith wrote that some kind of chapel was there since a bell had been purchased in 1922 for the sum of $46.00. Father Schwarz' 1920 photograph shows that indeed, a sturdy wooden building was in place but there was as yet, no bell. This structure was replaced by a new chapel in 1942 and dedicated to St. Catherine. Fire destroyed the building a few years later.


photograph
LAB FILM S104:49
Soon after, Brother Robert Schuchert directed construction of a new complex of buildings on Indian Village Road, in Ajo, and by studying the mountain ridge behind the church, we can see that it appears to occupy the same location as the earlier wooden chapel. The U-shaped building housed the church, school, and priest's quarters. The Catholic Church abandoned the building in 1968, and the Ajo Historical Society took over the complex in 1975.

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