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

Mission to Papaguería: St. Paul the Apostle, Chiawuli Dak

In anticipation of his silver jubilee memorial, which was to be held on April 7, 1940, Father Schwarz carefully loaded a specially-built neo-gothic style altar in a truck, which he drove from Chicago to the Papago village of Chiawuli Dak, also known as Fresnal.
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Village residents had been making adobe bricks for the walls of the anticipated chapel, which still lacked floor, roof, door, windows, and other fittings that Schwarz estimated would cost $500.

"May St. Paul, the Apostle, in whose honor the chapel will be dedicated, enable us to get this help soon. The Indians have gone ahead with their work in the expectation that their heavenly patron would send them an earthly patron to help them out," he wrote to The Indian Sentinel in 1939. Help must have come in other ways as well, since he noted that St. Augustine's Party also helped to build the chapel.

When completed, the tan stucco building had a red roof, while the inside back wall and ceiling was painted pink and light green with cream-colored side walls. It measured 39 by 21 feet with a field cross on the east. An unsigned 1940 report noted that there were some 66 church-going Papagoes, 40 of whom could not speak English.
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The little church, seemingly freshly painted inside and out, and adorned with a floral wreath of yellow flowers atop its cross, has been lovingly and well-cared for ever since its dedication.

In contrast to other chapels in the Tohono O'odham Nation, in 2001, the door to St. Paul's was wide open, with sunshine streaming through the windows. The cream-colored chapel was immaculate and adorned with crisp paper flowers, pictures, and statues.

Father Augustine Schwarz would have been enormously pleased.

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