Villagers Take Church Restoration Work into Their Own Hands

Villagers Take Church Restoration Work into Their Own Hands

Villagers Take Church Restoration Work into Their Own Hands
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New Mexico villagers save Church of Saint Anthony of Padua from demolition by restoring it themselves.

A church is the very heart of a community or village in New Mexico. As such, when the news of demolition of a church which has been at the center of their lives for more than a century reached their ears, the villagers of Questa refused to let it happen.

Villagers Take Church Restoration Work into Their Own Hands[/tweetthis]

The Church of Saint Anthony of Padua has been standing in Questa since it was built in the mid-1800s by the first families who made Questa their home. Over time, the church fell into a state of neglect and repairs and maintenance were not regularly initiated. Gradually, the Church structure weakened, and eventually collapsed eight years later. The demise of the church greatly pained the villagers. The archdiocese proposed to demolish the whole structure as what remained was not in a condition that was safe for people.

The villagers, however, saw things differently. Under the leadership of former mayor Malaquias Rael, the villagers rallied around to take the restoration of the church into their hands. Today, eight years after their strong-willed decision, the church is once again standing as it was before. However, this journey of restoring the church was not an easy one. For one, funding was an issue as the villagers are not very affluent.  The villagers worked hard to bring in the extra money by holding auctions, bake sales, dance events, car washes and other such fundraisers. In addition, the generosity of the people around them brought in donations of $600,000, and half a million worth of contributions in terms of equipment and construction materials.

The village received a severe blow in 2014 when the village’s single largest employer, the molybdenum mine which has been the source of income for villagers, was shut down. Looking at this as nothing but a test of their determination, the villagers went on with their mission, undaunted. Through all the eight years, the mutual faith, community love and devotion to the church kept fueling the motivation of the villagers so that not for one instant did they think of quitting.

More than 40,000 hours went into laboring to laying the adobes, plastering, painting and stained glass painting. The villagers draw their inspiration from their forefathers who put in so much effort to build the church without having all the modern amenities that exist today. The villagers feel that their own hard work is nothing when compared to the hard work put in by their forefathers.

The church, which is an exact replica of the old structure, was rededicated to the archdiocese on August 14, 2016.


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