By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic
Andrien Farquharson’s 50-plus years of service to St. Pius X Catholic Church might never have occurred if family life in a Federal Bureau of Investigation household hadn’t been so chaotic.
Farquharson’s late husband, Bob, spent the early years of their marriage working as a Chicago-based special agent for the FBI. She said that he traveled often and missed his family in the mid-1950s, when J. Edgar Hoover led the bureau.
“That wasn’t the life we wanted,” said Farquharson, an Amarillo native. “It was extremely tense.”
The young couple balked at accepting a series of moves to Northeastern urban centers, Farquharson said, which led Bob to leave the FBI for a sales and business career. The family moved to Dallas and became St. Pius X parishioners in 1957.
Farquharson, a longtime parish volunteer, and Maria Madrigal are the two St. Pius X parishioners who will be among 138 medal recipients to be honored with the Bishop’s Award for Service to the Church on Feb. 23. The second-year program recognizes outstanding parish volunteers.
The award surprised her, Farquharson said.
“I count my life in the church an adventure,” said Farquharson, who converted to the Catholic faith before her marriage in 1955. “God is so good to me.”
Farquharson’s service award did not surprise Msgr. Larry Pichard, a former St. Pius X pastor who now is the pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Frisco.
Msgr. Pichard praised Farquharson’s profusion of interests and talents.
“She’s a dynamo,” he said. “She inspired so many things at St. Pius over the years. She’s had the energy to invent things and reach out.”
Msgr. Pichard met Farquharson and her family in the mid-1960s when they participated in “Operation Otomi”—an outreach to help an indigenous group in Mexico’s Mezquital Valley.
Farquharson, a mother of six, said that she experienced a deeply transformative interval during the apostolic trip, which was sponsored by St. Pius X and the Christian Family Movement.
“It changed my entire life,” said Farquharson, who helped the Otomi women sew clothing among her activities on the mission trip. “I was interested in the people, who hadn’t had a priest in the valley for many years.”
Msgr. Pichard, who was a high school student when he first encountered Farquharson, said he admired her pioneering spirit and gumption.
He recalled his amazement when Farquharson arranged to bring Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M.Cap., the preacher to the Papal Household, to Dallas to preach at St. Pius X in 2001.
Farquharson, 80, said she had read about Father Cantalamessa and got it into her head to phone the Vatican and invite him to her beloved parish.
And he accepted.
Upon his arrival, Farquharson said he seemed surprised that she picked him up at the airport instead of a man. But he quickly adjusted to his driver, she said.
“He was very unassuming and peaceful,” she said. “He was so nice. He went around talking to everybody.”
The St. Pius X Spiritual Life Center recently acquired a plaque that says “Andrien Hall” in Farquharson’s honor.
Father Michael Guadagnoli, pastor at St. Pius X, said that the parish wanted to thank Farquharson by renaming the center where she has helped coordinate prayer and numerous activities.
Renovations to the center—a one-time house in need of tender loving care near the parish grounds—have produced a welcoming environment for the prayer ministry and adult faith formation.
“Prayer has been a great love and ministry for her,” he said. “She’s known and loved not only here but by the great connections she has made because of her faith.”
Farquharson dismissed the idea that she should be referred to with a title.
“I’m just here,” she said with a smile as she looked around the comforting headquarters for spiritual growth. “It has always been a goal to help Catholics understand the Catholic Church.”
Pick up a print copy of the Feb. 15 edition of The Texas Catholic for feature stories on more recipients of the Bishop’s Award for Service to the Church.