From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
From the Editors 28 (2010)Chasin’ Away the Blues: Texas Sunday Legislation 28 (2010)Simeon Hart Pioneered Local Industry 28 (2010)Felix Martinez: Southwestern Renaissance Man 28 (2010)Teresa Urrea: La Santa de Cabora Inspired Mexican Revolution 28 (2010)Utopia in Mesilla: The Shalam Colony 28 (2010)Stahmann Farms Produce Pecans on Two Hemispheres 28 (2010)Betty Mary Goetting Brought Birth Control to El Paso 28 (2010)Maud Sullivan Made El Paso Public Library a Cultural Center 28 (2010)Lucy Acosta’s Legacy Continues in LULAC 28 (2010)Belen Robles: Voice for the Latino Community 28 (2010)Toltec Club: Of Ghosts and Guests 28 (2010)
Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
From the Director 25 (2006)First El Paso Protestant Church: St. Clement's 25 (2006)Bowie High School: Always a Bear 25 (2006)Golden Gloves Grew Out of El Paso's Love of Boxing 25 (2006)LULAC Fought Hard to Guarantee Rights 25 (2006)El Paso Women Gained Power in LULAC 25 (2006)McKelligon Canyon: From Cattle to Culture 25 (2006)Tortugas Celebrates Virgen de Guadalupe, San Juan 25 (2006)Bataan Death March and POW Camps 25 (2006)Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors 25 (2006)Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II 25 (2006)Sober on the Border 25 (2006)Clyde W. Tombaugh: Farm Boy Reached for the Stars 25 (2006)A Taste of Southwest Wine 25 (2006)
From the Director 24 (2005)From the Editors 24 (2005)Gypsie Davenport and May Palmer Ran Infamous Brothels 24 (2005)Pioneer Attorney William Burges Tackled Unpopular Issues 24 (2005)Richard Fenner Burges: Renaissance Man 24 (2005)Charles Kelly Wielded Power with Political 'Ring' 24 (2005)Tom Charles Wanted World to Know White Sands 24 (2005)Dripping Springs has Rich History 24 (2005)Thomas B. White Directed Innovative La Tuna for 19 Years 24 (2005)Cowboys on the Range --- Missile Range, That Is 24 (2005)Ranchers vs. the Feds: The McNew Saga 24 (2005)Mexican Repatriation in 1930s 24 (2005)White House Department Store 24 (2005)Thomason Hospital Celebrates 90 Years 24 (2005)R.E. Thomason Shaped City, State, Nation 24 (2005)
Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004)From the Editors 23 (2004)Solomon C. Schutz Helped Bring Law and Order to El Paso 23 (2004)James Gillett Showed Courage in El Paso 23 (2004)Jim White Explored Carlsbad Caverns for Years 23 (2004)Ben Lilly: Mountain Man of the Southwest 23 (2004)Aldo Leopold Proposed Land Ethics 23 (2004)Escontrias Ranch: A Link to Hueco Tanks Park 23 (2004)Hueco Tanks is Site of Controversy 23 (2004)Marcelino Serna Became World War I Hero 23 (2004)Sam Dreben Soldiered All Over the World 23 (2004)Kern Place Neighborhood: The Man Behind the Name 23 (2004)Farah Manufacturing Now Just a Memory 23 (2004)Texas Knights of Columbus Began in El Paso 23 (2004)
Look for Us on the Web - Editor's Column 22 (2003)From the Editors 22 (2003)Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland 22 (2003)O. T. Bassett and Charles R. Morehead 22 (2003)S. H. Newman: Pioneer Newspaperman Fought Vice 22 (2003)Elfego Baca Lived More Than Nine Lives 22 (2003)Woman's Club Has Long Served City 22 (2003)Cathedral's Beauty Pleases 22 (2003)Albert J. Fountain's Achievements Eclipsed by Mysterious Death 22 (2003)Albert B. Fall's Career Ended in Disgrace 22 (2003)Cloudcroft Baby Sanatorium Saved Many 22 (2003)Dale Resler Worked Hard for El Paso 22 (2003)Price's Dairy Still Family Owned 22 (2003)Woodlawn Bottling Brought Pepsi to Town 22 (2003)Union Depot Witnessed Growth of El Paso 22 (2003)
We're Now on the Web --From the Editor 21(2002)From the Editors 21(2002)Downtown Opium Dens Attracted Many 21(2002)Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom for Texas Slaves 21(2002)Black Cowboys Rode the Trails, Too 21(2002)Ku Klux Klan Had Short Life in El Paso 21(2002)Mining Became Big Business in Southwest 21(2002)Smeltertown Still Exists in Memories 21 (2002)El Paso Played Important Role in the Mexican Revolution 21 (2002)Pancho Villa Led Northern Forces in Revolution 21 (2002)Soldaderas Played Important Roles in Revolution 21 (2002)Pershing, Villa Forever Linked to Columbus 21 (2002)Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929 -- 21 (2002)Houchen Settlement House Helped New Arrivals 21 (2002)Otis A. Aultman Captured Border History in Pictures 21 (2002)
Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
Three Decades of History 12 (1994)From the Editors 12 (1994)The Plaza Theater…Here to Stay!? 12 (1994)El Paso Broadcasting: The Stories Behind the Call Letters 12 (1994)Alphabet Agencies: FDR's Brainstorm 12 (1994)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio 12 (1994)Hobo Sign Language Targeted El Paso 12 (1994)Self- Sufficiency Key to Farmers' Survival During Depression 12 (1994)Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers 12 (1994)Former Members Recall Life in Hitler Youth 12 (1994)German Prisoners of War Interned at Fort Bliss During World War II -- 12 (1994)German POWs Remembered at Fort Bliss 12 (1994)One German POW's Story 12 (1994)Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages 12 (1994)Women Changed Wartime Work Patterns 12 (1994)Bracero Program Hurt Domestic Farm Workers 12 (1994)San Pedro Pharmacy Retains Look of the Past 12 (1994)Teenage Fashions of the Nifty Fifties 12 (1994)Rebel Image of Motorcyclists Set in 1950s -- 12 (1994)
Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
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Bicycle Padre Still Working

By Angelica Nunnery, Ricardo Oseguera, Fernanda Ivonne Orpineda Lugo, Isabel Hernandez and Ruth Vise

PDF version

Young Father Rahm

Harold Joseph Rahm was born in Tyler, Texas, a small town near San Antonio on Feb. 22, 1919, the third child of Dr. Robert E. and Minnie A. Rahm. In his book This Terrible Jesuit (2009), Rahm explained that his mother consecrated his life to the Virgin Mary when she suffered from diphtheria while pregnant and promised Mary that if the Rahms were blessed with a healthy son, he would become a priest.

When his parents divorced, Minnie became the sole provider for her six children. Harold Rahm would see his alcoholic father again only on his death bed. His father would become the future priest’s “patron of alcohol.”

Image caption: A young Father Rahm ministered in many ways in South El Paso. Image taken from Office in the Alley. (Courtesy of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health)

His mother taught him to love nature, and he spent nights in a little log cabin she had built in the backyard. Rahm grew up like other boys, playing, riding horses, participating in sports. In high school, he took the tough classes while he and his friends went to parties, roller-skated, danced, took girls out for rides. His plan was to become a doctor.

He went to church mainly because his mother made him, but during one Christmas midnight mass, he “sensed the glory of God.” Later, in his log cabin he was inspired to consider the priesthood one night while he gazed at the moon.

Although underage, he joined the Texas National Guard, and during a short break on maneuvers, his truck parked in front of a bookstore in a small town, Harold ran in asking for a book “about God.” The saleslady brought him a book by a Jesuit priest and when he asked the price, he was informed it was part of a set. He bought the set, and a new plan for his life began to take hold. A short time later, he was at Saint John’s Seminary in San Antonio, where he realized he wanted to become a Jesuit.

Jesuits are well known for education and the social apostolate. On Sept. 27, 1540, Pope Adrian VI appointed Ignatius of Loyola and others to preach and teach theology and the Bible. The group became known as the Society of Jesus, (S. J.), the Jesuit Order of priests.

On Aug. 15, 1939, Rahm took his first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and began studying Spanish, desiring to work with Mexican people. He became devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe early and has remained dedicated to her. He received a degree in languages at Loyola University in New Orleans and went to Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. for three years to study philosophy and science. He studied theology for four years at Saint Mary’s Theological College in Kansas. While completing 15 years of study, Rahm became a Jesuit high school teacher in Tampa, Fla. One summer he spent in Ysleta, with the Mexican Jesuits, working on his Spanish.

On June 14, 1950, Rahm was ordained a Jesuit priest. It was only after his ordination that he learned about his mother’s consecration. Having asked to work in a low-income area, Rahm was told that he would go to El Paso, Texas, and minister in the Chamizal Zone in South El Paso, territory claimed by both Mexico and the U.S. because of the meandering Rio Grande, a situation settled only in 1963.

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Just before midnight on July 12, 1952, Father Rahm arrived in El Paso as the assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, located at 602 South Oregon St. No one met him at the train, and he took a cab to the rectory. There he met Father Robert Gafford who welcomed him warmly, yet the young priest was sad in his new home. Father Rahm wrote in This Terrible Jesuit that he found it hard to thank God that night. “My room and mattress were not only worn, but very hot. There was no fan. I had studied Spanish, … yet as a result of hearing loss, I had not made much progress.”

The next morning he began to explore his new home, where many people lived in dilapidated apartment buildings with no hot water or electricity and few bathrooms. During his first week, Rahm began to meet the residents. The second week he decided to purchase a bicycle in order to meet more families in the neighborhood. In This Terrible Jesuit, Rahm explained, “By walking I could contact some fifty people daily. On a bicycle I could visit a hundred.”

He soon recognized that the area, including a large immigrant population, had many social and economic problems, resulting from dire poverty and neglect. When Father Robert Gafford was later appointed Superior, he told Father Rahm that he would be responsible for work in the streets while Gafford would take care of duties inside church walls. Thus, Father Rahm spent his days in the Segundo Barrio, known in English as the Second Ward, an electoral division, attempting to help his parishioners with their needs. Their difficulties became his. He joined in street football games, attended weddings and birthday gatherings and became part of the daily lives of Segundo Barrio residents. Sometimes he celebrated mass in backyards in order to reach those who were unable to attend church.

 Mural of the Bicycle PadreNoting there was little for young people to do on the streets besides get into trouble, Father Rahm worked with others in the community to develop a club for teens, which became Our Lady’s Youth Center, opening on Oct. 1, 1953, in the Sacred Heart School yard. The organization was devoted to providing youth of any age a safe haven from the physical and moral dangers around them. Father Rahm realized that his parish was divided in half by different ruling gangs, and violence and drugs threatened to destroy the youth.

Image caption: Father Rahm, the “Bicycle Padre,” is shown on a mural by Francisco Delgado located behind Sacred Heart Church. (Photo by Isabel Hernandez)

As he rode his bicycle one day, he stopped to ask a teenager where to find a man that could help with athletics. The boy mentioned Ventura Irrobali, known as Tula, celebrated locally for his basketball career at Texas Western College. Tula began helping the priest one Saturday morning a week but soon joined Father Rahm in his work after seeing the large number of children who showed up to play various sports. City Recreation Director Robert Shipp helped furnish the sports equipment the programs needed and hired Tula as an evening recreation director, in addition to his day job with Southern Pacific.

According to a personal interview by Isabel Hernandez with Jose Aguilar, who worked closely with Father Rahm for 10 or 12 years and went on to become a community leader and Director of Project Bravo in El Paso, the hard working priest had noticed an old deserted building owned by the Knights of Columbus. The group gave him use of the first floor and basement, but because the building had not been used for 20 years, it had no window panes or electricity, floors were rotted out, plumbing needed replacing and there was trash everywhere.

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Father Rahm had learned to use his considerable skills of persuasion to get businessmen, Catholic or not, to help his work in the community. Donations flowed in as young people cleaned out the basement, an area that would be used for wrestling, weight lifting, Judo and boxing, a sport in which Rahm himself had participated. The building was repaired, the yard paved, basketball hoops and playground equipment installed. For 10 years, one businessman donated all electrical work and appliances that the center required.

Another, Leo Hines, donated materials to build a sandbox for the little ones, but even more helpful, Hines created the first Board of Directors for the center, according to an El Paso Times article by Nancy Miller. In This Terrible Jesuit, Rahm wrote that under Hines’ leadership, 90 per cent of the donors that were solicited contributed monthly to the center and made it possible to hire Tula as the full-time director.

Rahm had organized various religious and social clubs for youth of different ages, such as the Club Guadalupano, providing social and spiritual activities for Bowie High School students; the Luises for young men who did catechetical work in the neighborhood; and others, all of which provided leadership opportunities for youth within the center.

In a series of articles written for the El Paso Times about the center, Nancy Miller extolled the fact that the clubs involved charity and community work and showcased the members’ talents. She also indicated that youths of any denomination, race or creed were welcome at the center.

Volunteers such as Aguilar aided Tula in supervising the young people, while going to school and working themselves. Rahm and Tula also helped adults find jobs through the Guadalupe Employment Office and they opened a thrift store. In 1959, Father Rahm founded the Tepeyac Credit Union in 1959 “to give Southsiders an alternative to loan sharks,” according to Times reporter Guadalupe Silva.

The center averaged about 250 young people every evening. Boasting a jukebox for dancing and recreational equipment of all kinds and offering free ice cream and soft drinks, the center began attracting gang members. Rahm wrote that they often were under the influence of drugs and alcohol, with resulting problems at the center, and attendance in the clubs such as the Guadalupanos dropped. Father Rahm saw that what he called the “rejected child” needed his attention.

In This Terrible Jesuit, Rahm wrote that in his parish in the 1950s, “Hundreds of kids were rejected. … under the influence of narcotics, … in continual trouble at school, with the probation department and with the police.” Many of them had joined gangs. Father Rahm made it one of the goals of OLYC to work directly with the gangs, with the objective of diminishing gang life as much as possible.

In Office in the Alley (1958), Rahm wrote that the conflicts and tensions between the different groups of gangs had led to many stabbings with resultant incarcerations. Having knowledge of a gang fight one night, he and Tula went to the appointed place and attempted to dissuade two leaders from a knife fight. Before even he knew what was happening, Rahm seized the arm of one boy and “threw him over [his] shoulder. He landed on the ground, dumbfounded. … How could a priest conquer a gang leader? The news exploded throughout the neighborhood.” Rahm had gotten the attention of the gang.

Current photo of Father Rahm in BrasilAguilar, fresh out of the military, was hired as the center’s general coordinator; Tula directed all outdoor activities, and Abelardo “Lalo” Barrientos, future poet, activist and professor, began teaching and directing dramatic and cultural events. These three men, along with Rahm, were the center’s leaders. Attendance exploded at the center, serving some “600 underprivileged teens and pre-teens on a daily basis,” according to Rahm.

Image caption: A contemporary Father Rahm rides his bicycle through the streets. The message in Portuguese says, “The past is past, the future is uncertain, we can only build on the present. Only the present is eternal. So it is this moment that makes the difference.” (Photo courtesy of Instituto Padre Haroldo, Campinas, São Paulo, Brasil)

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Our Lady’s Youth Center became the core of the South Side and supervisors began to perform social work aggressively out in the neighborhood with the various gangs, attempting to gain their confidence, and turn the gangs into social clubs.

Soon, however, gang-related deaths hit home with a young man dying in Father Rahm’s arms from a stabbing in November 1957. Rahm and OLYC leaders were determined to put a stop to this before the deadly game continued. Father Rahm went public and spoke about the tragic event on local television and newspapers and in personal visits told the gangs that the young man had forgiven his enemies before he had died. This heartbreaking incident led to a way to settle problems among rival gangs.

In a 1957 issue of the Federal Probation Journal, Elizabeth Zinn wrote about Father Rahm’s “Night Court,” established so that gang problems could be settled within the neighborhood between two individuals and not in the jail or the mortuary. Each gang was represented on a council, and gang members themselves became “judges.” Individual warring gang members fought in the boxing ring, with or without gloves, in five three-minute rounds to settle disputes. “He once told gang members that if they were that tough, they should fight it out in the ring,” Bernardo illegas wrote in the El Paso Times.

Lesser punishments were meted out for other infractions. No one could enter Our Lady’s Center if intoxicated, and the entire staff worked to make the plan succeed. It took time, lots of hard work and money, but Father Rahm was able to communicate with the “rejected” and reduce gang violence.

To further teach and bring joy to neighborhood children, Rahm established Camp Juan Diego in the Lower Valley on land donated by the Ivey family. It offered a camp experience for 30 to 50 children weekly, offering arts and crafts and nature activities. At first, the camp consisted only of a “small adobe structure but expanded to included barracks, a recreation room, classrooms and a swimming pool by 1964,” according to the Diocese of El Paso Centennial History.

Rahm was a pilot, and regularly flew to Mexico, bringing food and supplies to the Tarahumaras, even surviving a plane crash. This and the others discussed here are but a few tangible projects and services that Father Rahm, the leaders he trained and the community that helped them brought to fruition in the 12 years he spent in El Paso. His work here was influential, and in 1964, he was sent to South America and asked to repeat his success in Brazil. Before leaving El Paso, Rahm was told he could ask any priest to take his place; he chose a former student from Florida, Father Richard Thomas. Today the center is located on Paisano and Kansas Streets and is now known as Las Alas, led by Father Jack Vessels.

Father Rahm’s work did not go unnoticed. Religious, political and business leaders as well as El Pasoans from other walks of life participated in a farewell dinner to say good-bye at El Paso County Coliseum on June 20, 1964. The headline in the El Paso Herald- Post said it best: the function was a “King-Size Thank You for King-Size Job.” More than 1,000 attendees paid tribute to the “bicycle priest” according to the Times article “Speakers Pay High Tribute to Father Rahm at Dinner” by Ramon Villalobos.

Federal Judge R. E. Thomason said, “I have never known a man who has contributed more to the youth of this community than Father Rahm … [H]is departure will be a great loss to the city and to the cause of reducing juvenile delinquency.”

Since his departure, Father Rahm has returned to visit El Paso several times, where he has been welcomed with love and respect. In 1992, because of his admirable work with gang members, drug addicts and his parishioners in South El Paso, El Paso County renamed Fifth Street, now known as Father Rahm Avenue. City Council proclaimed January 9 Father Harold J. Rahm Day.

“In Brazil I primarily work in the drug world, including, ‘Tough Love.’ I serve on many commissions, both national and international. Our Center is internationally known and considered one of the best in South America,” said Rahm in a recent email interview with Isabel Hernandez. Tough Love is a family rehabilitation program for those who are chemically dependent.

Rahm has been in Brazil for 50 years, working with addicts and the poor. One of his main projects is the center which rehabilitates drug and alcohol addicts in Campinas, São Paolo. He co-founded the Brazilian Federation of Therapeutic Communities in 1990, for alcoholics and drug addicts, and Casa Aberta, a home for street kids. In addition, he developed “Centro Kennedy,” a center similar to Our Lady’s Youth Center, where more than 50,000 teens have been helped.

In the interview, the 95-year-old priest said he wakes up at 4:30 a.m., practices Christian yoga, and holds mass and lectures, along with other activities. He eats dinner with different families, and on weekends teaches various courses in spiritual training or relaxation. It does not appear that this charismatic priest has slowed down.

The Jesuit priest mentioned that he has not visited El Paso recently but has not forgotten the Border City. He said in the interview, “I always try to help the poor and neglected. My story is that it is easy to write about spirituality; to live the same requires much grace from God. At times we do not cooperate.”

Father Harold Rahm, S.J. will remain in the hearts and lives of the people of El Paso. He said that the happiest memories he has of El Paso are the result of Our Lady’s Youth Center. Jose Aguilar commented in his interview that “Father Rahm was very charismatic. He would always get his way. Father Rahm was the one that took care of these kids since they had no other place to go. Because of him, a lot of youth were able to progress in life.”

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tags: biography

Father Rahm Sources

  • Interview with artist Celia Alvarez
    recollections of impact Father Rahm had on her
  • selected Herald Post articles on Father Rahm
    no free online access, check with digital suppliers or the Border Heritage Center, Main El Paso Public Library:

    July 2, 1962 p.25 Plane crash
    May 18, 1964 Leaving

Segundo Barrio Sources

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