[Narrator 1:] Father Urban de Hasque had planned to be a missionary to the Belgian congo. Some say it was happenstance, others say it was divine intervention that short circuited the plans of this Catholic priest and brought him instead to Oklahoma Territory and here, he became not only a part of the history of the Sooner State but also a recorder of it.
[Narrator 2:] They came to Oklahoma from many nations. Newcomers to a new land, looking for better opportunities, a chance to begin again and what remains is their heritage. A rich heritage, that has become the Oklahoma image.
[Narrator 1:] Urban de Hasque was born in Antwerp, Belguim in 1875, one of 10 children. His father could trace his lineage back to European nobility but Urban had his heart set on becoming a missionary to the people of Africa's Belgian Congo. He grew up as a model son. In school he was willing to tackle even the most difficult problems. History and geography were of intense interest to him as he dreamed of other times and faraway places.
[African music plays]
[Narrator 1:] His dream of going to the Congo came true but his plans to work in that land were not to be fulfilled. He lived and worked in the Congo just long enough for the hot climate to affect his health. He became ill and had to return to Belgium. It was during this time that he heard a pioneer priest from America talk about the work to be done in Indian missions. Giving up his dreams of the Congo, he prepared himself to minister to American Indians.
[Narrator 1:] In July of 1900, Urban De Hasque was ordained a priest and left for the United States. Three months later he arrived in Guthrie and then was assigned as Assistant Pastor in Hennessey. His interest in history led him to record occurrences in the territory and he eventually became the official historian of the diocese he served.
[Narrator 1:] Father de Hasque was also a good businessman, able to collect funds to promote his work among these people. Having supported the building of a church in North Africa, he decided to do the same for the black people in Okmulgee. He used many of his own private resources in doing this.
[Narrator 1:] He was never without the courage to take on a formidable foe, so it's not surprising that he became the force behind the famous Sacramental Wine case in Oklahoma. In 1917, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the Bone Dry Law which made prohibition so restrictive it even forbad importing or possessing sacramental wine. In effect, that made the celebration of the Mass illegal in Oklahoma. Who stepped forward to challenge this law? The Chancellor of the Diocese, Father Urban de Hasque. The law stated that,
[Reinactment]: "It shall be unlawful for any person in this state to receive directly or indirectly any liquor, that sale of which is prohibited by the state, from a common or other carrier."
[Narrator 1:] A Catholic priest at Guthrie ordered a supply of alter wine; the Santa Fe Railway, wishing to abide by the law, refused to bring the wine into Oklahoma. Father de Hasque secured the help of three good Oklahoma lawyers: Frank Wilson, Mot Hiley and John Churt. They began the fight against this interpretation of the Bone Dry Law. They got sued in district court to compel the railway to deliver wine intended for sacramental purposes. He lost and the church faced a dilemma, abide by the law and have no wine for the sacrament or bring it in by illegal means. The decision was appealed to the Supreme Court and the case received national publicity. On May 21, 1918, the Supreme Court ruled that wine for sacramental use was not included in the prohibition legislation. The church could remain legal and the American spirit of religious liberty was reaffirmed. For his outstanding contributions to his church, his people and his adopted country, Notre Dame University conferred on Father de Hasque the degree of Doctor of Laws.
[Church bells ring]
[Narrator 1:] After serving Oklahoma for 54 years, Father de Hasque died. A funeral mass was set in Oklahoma and, in Belgium, a memorial service was held in his old parish church. There were two flags at the service and both the American and Belgium national anthems were played. Father Urban de Hasque, a European immigrant who reflected the best of the Oklahoma Image.
[Narrator 2:] This program was produced by the Oklahoma Image Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and brought to you as a public service by this station. Oklahoma Image is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Library Association.
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Part of the Oklahoma Image Statewide Humanities Project, Promoting Newcomers to a New Land book series.
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