Date of death: 10/28/2006
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1947
The Reverend Monsignor Burnell Arnold “Bud” Erpen, 84, was a former longtime Borger resident.Monsignor Erpen’s body has been donated to Texas Tech Medical School in Lubbock.Monsignor Erpen was born Dec. 16, 1921, in Madison, Wis., to John and Constance Lenartz Erpen. He attended St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee and Saint Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Ind., and was ordained a Catholic priest by the Most Rev. Archbishop of Milwaukee in St. John’s Cathedral on May 27, 1947. For more than 50 years, Monsignor Erpen had devoted his time and talent in uniting the Catholic community with his visions of expansion. His love for the Church and the faith community allowed him to make his “vision” become reality.In 1958, while pastor at Holy Name in Happy, he would travel three days a week to Tulia and make weekly visits to Silverton to offer Mass. In Silverton, he was able to give the faith community their first Mass, which he celebrated weekly on the top floor of an old metal building which primarily was used to store grain. As months passed by Monsignor Erpen learned of a Presbyterian church that was for sale. With the assistance of the Art Kleman family, he was able to purchase the church. Subsequently the church was named in honor of Mrs. Art Kleman (Loreto) – Our Lady of Loreto. Monsignor Erpen personally repaired, remodeled, painted and refinished the inside of both the church and home.In 1960, Monsignor Erpen was reassigned as pastor of St. John’s in Borger. At St. John’s he had another vision – to construct a new church in Borger and a new mission in Stinnett. As always, he took charge of this project and ground was broken for the new church on April 27, 1961. The new St. John’s was dedicated in February 1962. In 1963, under the leadership of Monsignor Erpen, the Catholic residents of Stinnett built St. Ann’s Church, located on a five-acre plot of land which was donated. St. Ann’s Church is a mission to St. John’s parish in Borger.The year 1975 would pose another vision and challenge for Monsignor Erpen, who was now pastor of Our Mother of Mercy in Wellington. It was during this pastoral tenure that he expressed his vision to construct a mission in Shamrock. As word got around of his wishes, the contributions started coming in mostly from the outside the Shamrock mission area. Friends of his came from Borger to loan him their carpentry skills and other talents. Within a matter of months, the Shamrock mission was completed and the rectory had been remodeled.His aspirations led him to yet another dream – a mission Church in Wheeler. For months Monsignor Erpen searched for desirable property with or without a structure to purchase. Several prospective parcels were heavily investigated but funding was limited. Then the Good Lord finally heard their prayers. Mr. W.T. Mitchell agreed to sell his deceased mother’s home to the church at an affordable price. Immediately, the renovations and remodeling began. After a short time the new mission was ready and a name was to be given. As he had done in the past with approval of the Bishop, Monsignor Erpen named these missions after their benefactors. The parish would be named St. Mary’s in honor of the previous owner, the late Mary Mitchell.Monsignor Erpen’s last years lived in retirement were spent traveling the Diocese of Amarillo serving as a supply priest to priests needing assistance, in ministry to the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in Channing, supporting Catholic Schools, fundraising for Catholic Churches and charities, as well as one of his most prized achievements: National Grand Chaplain of the Order of Elks.He was preceded in death by a brother, John; and an aunt, Gertrude Lenartz.Information obtained from the Amarillo Globe-News online, wwww.amarillo.com, on Nov. 1, 2006.