St. Joseph’s Mission Church in La Cholla has continued to evolve, since November of 2014, when the first Mass was held in the cinder block shell that would become a beautiful chapel.
From the bring-your-own-chair days when we shooed out the pigeons and dogs before Mass, to standing-room-only services, weddings and events, the one constant, which draws people back again and again, is the simplicity.
The Church, which Peter and the apostles formed in the traditions of Jesus, was not grandiose or rich or pompous. It was personal communication of the word of God and an invitation to everyone to belong and find peace. Over the years, however, the hierarchy began to model itself off the riches and splendor of emperors and kings, in an effort to create an image of grandeur and importance.
Most Catholics grew up in that atmosphere, with gold-tone chalices and brocade vestments, incense, silent reverence and rote recital of prayers in Latin. It caused many to turn away and seek a more personal encounter with God in the Holy Spirit.
The services at St. Joseph’s, and particularly since the return of our pastor, Padre Marco Lopez, are simple, soulful and deeply touching at times. On most Sundays, he uses a chalice that was hewn by hand by a local craftsman from black walnut wood. Although a beautiful gold-tone chalice was donated to the church and is used for high holy days, Father Marco prefers the wooden chalice because we are in the church of Saint Joseph, the carpenter.
His expression of Catholicism has brought many people back to the little church in La Cholla. Where summer Mass in the past might see a half-dozen people at the most, we enjoyed near-seating-capacity attendance this summer. Of course the air conditioning played a part in that!
The big difference, however, is that simplicity. The Mass is bilingual, so all can understand. Father Marco is animated and comical and truly touched by the Holy Spirit. His sermons almost always contain a joke or two and the message relates to all of us in this day and age. When he blesses us with holy water, he jokingly speaks as if to “drive out demons.” But, then, who knows?
At the end of the Mass, he asks a special blessing on those who travel and invites all to return. Then as he, and we, chant, “Come Holy Spirit and fill us with love,” he goes one-by-one to lay his hand on each head and ask for God’s blessing. It has touched many hearts and brought people back to the faith – at least when they visit Rocky Point.
Bilingual Mass is offered every Sunday morning at 8:30. Readings, music and the sermon are in both English and Spanish. To reach St. Joseph’s, take the paved road past the Sandy Beach Condos and the dirt road past Wrecked at the Reef. As you wind your way toward Cholla Bay, the church is on the right and clearly marked. All are welcome, all are blessed!
For more information about the church and services, contact our sexton, Bob Keller by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by mail at P.O. Box 297, Lukeville, AZ 85341 or by phone at 928-706-6928.
# # #
St. Joseph’s Pastor, Padre Marco Lopez, ends each mass with an individual blessing and a prayer for safe travel.