Thanks to an extremely generous donation by Randal and Michelle Auer of Mesa, Ariz., the San Jose’ Mission Church in La Cholla is now beautifully tiled and the alter has been set with cantera stone tiles and a cross.
“For those of us who go in each Sunday morning to clean the church before the bi-lingual Mass at noon, this is a wonderful blessing,” said parishioner Bob Keller. “The very rough concrete floor was a magnet for sand and dust. The tile not only makes cleaning easier, it is absolutely beautiful.”
The tile was set by local residents over a three-week period. Leading that crew was Julio Caesar Valenzuela with support from Francisco Villa and others. Without power or running water, the workers improvised to finish the work before the Memorial Day weekend.
“The response to the little church as been amazing,” Keller said. “Since the first Mass was said in November of 2014, people have donated generously to the collection and have provided items to enhance the facility.”
Keller himself built and donated the bell tower, a lectern, Stations of the Cross, signage and a good deal of labor. Willie and Janet Fenderson from Pinetop, Ariz., built and brought down nine sturdy wooden pews with padded kneelers. The Auers also donated a beautifully framed print of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Lee Beazley donated two metal candelabras that now accent that artwork.
Upward of 50 people attend Mass each week, many of them visitors or expatriates from throughout Puerto Peñasco who enjoy the bi-lingual service. All readings are done in Spanish and English, the hymns, led by Keller’s wife Charlotte on guitar, alternate English and Spanish verses. Lay ministers translate the sermon/homily, sometimes assisted by visitors who are fluent in Spanish and English.
“God is working through many people to make it possible for us to bring the Sacrament of the Eucharist to this beautiful little mission church for visitors and the people of La Choya,” said Padre David Morales, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which oversees the mission church.
“With continued support, we hope to build more pews, complete the stucco on the outside of the church, add a bathroom and provide for additional parking,” Padre David added. Padre David stressed that no outside fund raising is currently authorized. If anyone wants to support completion of the church, cash or checks payable to the Diocese of Mexicali, A.R., will be gratefully accepted at the OLG parish office on Simon Morua in Puerto Peñasco.
The congregation is pleased to have beautiful tile in the church and they invite everyone – visitors and residents – to join them every Sunday at noon for the only bi-lingual Mass in Puerto Peñasco. Just take the sand road past Wrecked at the Reef and after two 90-degree bends in the road watch for the little church on the right.
#1) Julio Caesar Valenzuela, who led the work crew, sets a hand-carved cantera cross on the alter.
#2) Francisco Villa sets tiles on the main floor before moving on to tile the alter.