Very Rev. Bernard James Francis Mutsaers. By far
the largest Catholic parish in Oklahoma is that surrounding and under
the supervision of St. Joseph’s Cathedral at Oklahoma City. The
pastor of the cathedral for the past ten years has been Rev. Bernard
James Francis Mutsaers, who has accomplished a remarkable work in
building up this parish and in keeping the institutions and functions
of the church apace with the remarkable growth of the city itself.
How well he has succeeded can be judged by the fact that the
membership of his congregation now surpasses the 4,000 mark. . For
sixteen years Rev. Fr. Mutsaers has been in America and practically
all that time has been devoted to the work of the ministry in
Oklahoma. He was born September 2, 1872, in Tilburg, Holland, in the
Province of Noord Brabant. From the age of ten, from 1882 until 1897,
he attended different institutions in Holland, and on June 12, 1897,
was ordained a priest of the Catholic Church at Bois-Le-Duc in
Holland by Bishop Van de Ven of the Diocese of ’s Hertogenbosch.
After a short term as assistant priest at Heusden on the Meuse he
went in the fall of 1897 to Rome, where he matriculated as a student
of the Gregoriana, a papal university under the direction
of the Jesuit Fathers. Chief of his professors were Bucceroni, Wernz,
later general of the Jesuit Order, and Billot, now cardinal. He found
a very valuable friend and tutor in Fr. William Van Rossum, C. SS.
R., now cardinal, and the only Dutch cardinal in the last 400 years.
After making various degrees he was finally made a Doctor of Sacred
Theology on July 19, 1900, at which time the jubilee was celebrated
in Rome under the auspices of Pope Leo XIII.
After this extensive
preparation and service in the old country, and following a short
stay with his relatives in Holland, Father Mutsaers set out for New
York, and soon joined the Oklahoma Diocese, and was assigned to
Kingfisher. In the spring of 1901 he was moved to St. John’s Indian
School at Gray Horse, Oklahoma, and in the fall of the same year was
made rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral at Guthrie, then the capital of
the state. After five years of service at Guthrie Father Mutsaers in
the summer of 1906 was promoted to be rector of St. Joseph’s
Cathedral of Oklahoma City, his present position. There he has lived
and worked and has seen his work prosper and increase, for a period
of ten years.
As a student, and
later on occasional visits to Europe, Father Mutsaers traveled
extensively over France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Greece,
Egypt, Austria Hungary and Italy. In the spring of 1906 he spent a
season in the Holy Land, visiting many of the places of interest. In
1911 he went to Cuba and from there sailed over the course probably
followed by Columbus from Havana to Spain. He is a man of charming
personality, has a great range of intellectual interests, and while
devoted to his church and especially his parish, the esteem paid him
in Oklahoma City is not confined within sectarian bounds.