San José/St. Joseph’s mission church in La Cholla just passed the eighth anniversary of being an active chapel with bilingual Mass every Sunday.

The goal at first was to simply get the word out to the people of Cholla, and the English-speaking residents and visitors, that there was a church where they could fully appreciate the scripture and the sermons. That work continues, in great extent, thanks to the help of the Rocky Point Times.

The next goal was to make the chapel more comfortable. When they had the first Mass in 2014, there were no windows or doors, no flooring, no pews, and more dogs and pigeons than people.

Water and electricity were not linked to the property, so Sexton Bob Keller rigged a 12-volt “chandelier” to hang above the altar and ran it off of a car battery, along with one microphone and a “Blues Brothers” type speaker.

It was Bring-Your-Own-Chair for a long time, then the Cholla Bay Homeowners Clubhouse loaned two dozen of their old stacking chairs. As time passed, a visitor from the White Mountains – Willie Fenderson – started a Go Fund Me account, raised a thousand dollars and built nine sturdy wooden pews. Other volunteers have since built 11 more.

As more people came to Mass and found the warmth of the small setting, the numbers grew and Keller created a building fund donation box so they could flesh out the abandoned block shell that served as the church.

Today, St. Joseph’s is a beautiful chapel with all the creature comforts, sturdy windows and doors, a bathroom, four mini-split AC/heater units and beautiful artwork and stained glass.

When it looked like the building projects were complete, they learned that their new pastor needed a home, so Keller raised the funds and oversaw the construction of a two-story, two-bedroom (one for the Bishop’s visits), two bath, 844 square foot apartment.

All of this was possible because the word went out to visitors and residents, and they opened their hearts to generously help build God’s church.

St. Joseph’s is a Catholic Mission Church under Padre Marco Lopez, Pastor of Holy Family Rectory. St. Joseph’s offers the only bilingual Mass in Peñasco, every Sunday, and all are welcome.

To reach the church, 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. For information, contact Keller by e-mail at, or by phone or text to 928-706-6928.

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San Jose/ St. Joseph’s facade before (2013) and after (2022).

San Jose/St. Joseph’s interior before and after.