Murphey Performs Benefit for Holy Angels Church

Famed Cowboy Singer-Songwriter Helps Fledgling Mission Raise Funds

Date August 8, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Categories Local News & Sports


Michael Martin Murphey, the numberone-selling singing cowboy artist in the country, has agreed to perform a benefit concert for the building fund of Holy Angels Catholic Mission at Angel Fire. Murphey, whose classic song €œWildfire€ is one of the most played songs in the history of radio in all formats, will give his Lone Cowboy Concert €” without his band €” for the Aug. 29 benefit at Angel Fire Community Center.

May Culotta, chair of the event, said organizers hope to fill the 430-seat venue. €œWe€™d love to raise $5,000,€ she said. Culotta told the Journal that the church committee was thrilled when Murphey agreed to do the show. €œWe€™re paying him, but I€™m sure he€™s given us a deep discount,€ she said.

Murphey, a native Texan who lives part of the year on a ranch near Taos, has often given generously to New Mexico causes. He is now in the Western Music Hall of Fame, having won numerous awards and honors from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Academy of Country Music, Grammy Awards, Country Music Association Awards, €œThe King of the Cowboys€ Award for Western Entertainment, The Academy of Western Artists and Performers, Texas Music Awards and Charlie Russell Red Sash Award for Western Heritage. A horse and cattle rancher in New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin, Murphey has also been given a rare Lifetime Honorary Member of the American Quarter Horse Association.

The concept for a new Catholic church in Angel Fire was approved by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe last September. On Jan. 16, Archbishop Michael Sheehan approved the use of the name €œHoly Angels€ for the new mission church. He also agrees that Sept. 29, the Feast of the Archangels, would be the new church€™s feast day.

The justification for the new church is based on current numbers as well as projected growth in the Moreno Valley near Taos during the next 50 years. Angel Fire is a small resort village near the southern end of the valley. Worshiping Catholics from Angel Fire have been attending St. Mel Catholic Church in nearby Eagle Nest, another, longer-established village.

Planning and fundraising for the church is being done under the aegis of what will be its mother church, Immaculate Conception Church in Cimarron, Culotta said.

€œCurrently, we€™re working with an architect who€™s preparing preliminary drawings,€ she said. €œWe still have to decide between Spanish/pueblo style or an alpine style. We have decided that it will be a two-story building, and the worship center will be upstairs and the meeting rooms, office and classrooms will be downstairs.€

Angel Fire Catholics researched and documented the need for a new church for several years. One of their most powerful tools, church committee chairman Tom Germscheid said earlier this year, was the 2000 federal census, which showed that the population of Angel Fire had grown 1,000 percent in the previous decade. It was then listed as the most rapidly growing village in New Mexico.

The year-round population at Angel Fire is now approximately 1,500, Germscheid said, and he estimates that at least 25 percent of those residents are Catholic. €œDevelopment and marketing have slowed, but growth is still projected at 10 to 15 percent per year,€ Germscheid said. Other relevant factors in the desire for a local church are that, despite an enlargement 10 years ago, St. Mel€™s is still at capacity eight months of the year, and its weekly Mass is at 5 p.m. Saturdays. The time factor is not insignificant, he said. €œThat€™s a very inconvenient time for people who work at a resort,€ Germscheid said.

A new church building is still three to five years away, Germscheid acknowledged. Under church rules, the locals must raise at least 50 percent of the cost of the building and the Archdiocese will lend the parish the other half. Germscheid said the parish will need to have about $1 million upfront. As of January, the committee had raised $50,000.

The church will be situated on a little more than seven acres of land purchased by the Archdiocese in 1998, located between the United Church and NM 434.

If You Go

WHEN: Michael Martin Murphey Benefit for Holy Angels Church
WHERE: Angel Fire Community Center, 71 Valley Road
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29
HOW MUCH: $35 adults; $15 youth 13-18; $10 children For information, call (575) 377-3332 or (575) 377-3169
(Special hotel rates also available.)
Donations for Holy Angels church in Angel Fire can be made to: Holy Angels Building Fund, P.O. Box 743, Angel Fire NM 87710.