Rural NM church commemorates rebuilding

La Sagrada Familia Catholic Mission Church
La Sagrada Familia Catholic Mission Church

LEMITAR, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico town that nearly saw its church collapse five years ago, finally has a home again back at the old site. Hundreds of people dedicated their new church Monday morning – something many thought might never happen.

The sound of prayer hasn’t echoed here in Lemitar for five years. Monday hundreds are writing a new chapter.

“It’s been a delight for me to see what people were able to do,” Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael Sheehan said.

After a $600,000 rebuilding project, seven miles north of Socorro, now has its La Sagrada Familia Catholic Mission Church back open.

“It has been a roller coaster of emotions but it’s been filled with blessings, challenges,” Rev. Andrew Pavlak said.

In June 2010, the original 180-year-old church saw part of its sanctuary collapse. A year later, they had to tear it down because the old adobe foundation was crumbling.

Their final mass had to be held outside away from where so many had made memories.

“It was very sad news,” Josefina Perez said.

“We didn’t think it was going to happen for a while. It took a long time,” said Clarie West.

Since then, the church has been holding mass inside private homes.

“You know this church in Lemitar is the only thing around other than houses and a few barns so it’s kind of the center of the community,” Sheehan said.

It took five years, but the church says letting go of their building was not an option.

“People that have come forward over and over again to do their share, to give donations,” Pavlak said.

They managed to keep some of the old pieces as well, including the windows, doors and the structural beams used to hold up the old building.

Members said it’s everything they prayed for.

“It’s beautiful and I hope like the father said it continues to be filled, you know, with the people of the community here and the surrounding areas,” Perez said.

The archbishop said there are about 200 mission churches in the Santa Fe Archdiocese.

Some of them are in the process of being restored or rebuilt; including churches in San Antonio, Polvadera and Alamillo, which are all in Socorro County.

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