Our laity organization is a group of volunteers organized to assist Fr. Antton Egiguren in his renewed ministry among Basque-Americans. The aim is not to create a separate Basque Catholic entity or to pull Basques from their current parishes; this is only to supplement efforts to strengthen the faith of Basque Catholics with periodic Basque community and religious services that are open to all.
We have taken the name of ARTZAI ONA, which in Basque means “good shepherd,” to meld with the metaphor of Christ Jesus as the good shepherd and to connect with the early 20th century effort of Boise area Basques who succeeded in building a Basque chapel that operated for a few years.
The references to Jesus as a good shepherd are many, including his quoted statement “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). By referring to himself as the shepherd of a flock he is appropriating divine language from the Old Testament, where the leaders of the people are called shepherds, especially Moses (Ps 80:1). The Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel in particular develop the shepherd motif to express how God cares for his people; indeed the coming Messiah will be God’s shepherd for his flock (Ezek 34:23-24), a prophecy given to announce that God Himself will come to shepherd his flock. He will search for his scattered flock and gather them together onto good pasture; He will tend to the weak and injured. (Ezek 34: 11-22).
The only purported church built by Basques in America was dedicated in 1919 in Boise, Idaho by the Basque chaplain of the time Bernardo Arregui. It sat about a hundred people, with daily masses as well as Baptisms, weddings and funerals, which reinforced a strong sense of Basque solidarity. But during the 1920s, the American Catholic Church was responding to outside pressure from the Protestant majority that Catholics were too sequestered and unwilling to become American. In response, many ethnic parishes were closed and the same happened in this case. Bishop Edward Kelly converted the Basque church into his private chapel and directed its congregants to join the parish at St. John’s Cathedral a few blocks away. Finally the building was sold by the Diocese in 1989 to a private business.
Ours is a voluntary organization. If you’d like to find out more about how to be involved, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org