Community comes together, restores 145-year-old church


ABEYTAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico community has come together to restore it’s more than century-old church that was falling apart.

“It’s an unexplainable feeling,” said San Antonio Mission Church Member Esmerlindo Barela.

But that feeling is a strong one.

“It makes my eyes welt, it makes my heart swell and almost leaves me speechless,” said Barela.

Barela is talking about the restoration project of the San Antonio Mission Church in Abeytas.

“We are only like 50 people strong in Abeytas and our average age is 72,” said San Antonio Mission Church Caretaker Al Sandoval.

So when the nearly 150-year-old church in town started to fall apart, the community knew they needed to get help.

They got about 20 people from the New Mexico Men’s Recovery Academy to pitch in.

“It’s just a sense of accomplishment,” said New Mexico Men’s Recover Academy Member Tim Samora.

Samora spent a majority of his life fighting addiction.

“I had been 11 years in addiction and I have turned my life around completely,” said Samora.

Samora and his brothers worked for nearly seven months rebuilding the church.

“Just doing something not expecting anything in return, just out of the goodness of our hearts. It’s a good feeling,” said Samora.

On Sunday, Archbishop John C. Wester performed the dedication of the new church.

People from Abeytas along with academy volunteers gathered for the celebration.

“It means a lot to people. It means like I said there is something magical about this church,” said Sandoval.

“It’s what I call the magic of Abeytas,” said Barela.

The church was built in the early 1870s.

The restoration project cost about $70,000. Officials said it would have cost four times that amount had the men from the academy not helped. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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