Church can make church center renovation possible – Arkansas Catholic
St. Andrew’s Church in Danville Selected to Receive Financial Boost to Help Project
Posted: September 17, 2021
Carolina Cano, director of faith training at St. Andrew’s Church in Danville, picks up a Bible from her partially repaired office at St. Francis Parish Center. The floors of the building were damaged after the bursting of frozen pipes. (Photo by Malea Hargett)
DANVILLE – For 15 years, the Catholic community of Danville has grown.
It all started when the first church, St. Andrew, was built and consecrated in 2006.
With the 320-seat church full at Sunday Mass and with no room for parish events or religious education classes, the parish purchased the former executive offices of Petit Jean Poultry in 2013 for $ 150,000. The 6.5 acres, including a garage storage building, are across from the church on Highway 10.
St. Andrew finally had space for parish events and classrooms for religious education, and they were even able to host retreats for young adults and charismatics. Unfortunately, much of the 7,850 square foot two-story building is unusable.
One Church, the diocesan initiative to give a unique financial boost to a rural or missionary church, will partner with St. Andrew’s Church from September 2021 to August 2022. The church hopes to renovate the St. Francis to welcome the faith of young people and adults. parish training and events with funding from a single church.
One Church, the diocesan initiative to give a unique financial boost to a rural or missionary church, will partner with St. Andrew’s Church from September 2021 to August 2022. The church hopes to renovate the St. Francis to welcome the faith of young people and adults. parish training and events with funding from a single church. The center was named after Saint Francis of Assisi by a former pastor.
The parish building has unique features that have been difficult for the minor renovations that the parish has been able to do so far. Management offices included an outdoor pool, indoor sauna and hot tub which had to be removed. Small offices have been turned into classrooms that cannot accommodate many students. Bathrooms can still only hold one person and have showers and tubs that are not needed.
“This building had a fountain in the front,” said the pastor, Father Mauricio Carrasco. “It was supposed to look majestic. We want the building to be easier to maintain, and ideally we have more parking there.
With few usable rooms, religious education classes in Kindergarten to Grade 5 and 6 to 12 are divided into two groups, serving 80 children.
“We have nine classrooms between the upper and lower floors,” said Father Carrasco. “The ground floor is a ballroom. It’s a really strange space. Maybe we have 10 spaces to teach.
The building’s two kitchens are small and in poor condition, unable to serve parish-wide events.
Father Carrasco said he knew the church would need the support of the Catholics in the Diocese of Little Rock to renovate St. Francis Parish Center into a functional parish hall and faith training building.
“It’s an achievable space because we made it work,” the pastor said. “But we are currently at a crossroads… We met as a parish and we talked about it at length. Do we want to keep this building and move forward, turning it into a commercial building? Right now, it’s really more of a house. Do we want to do renovations that will gradually transform it into a parish center? Or do we want to get rid of it and figure out what we’re going to build elsewhere? … The parish decided that we should keep the St. Francis center.
Father Carrasco said he is now working with the Diocese of Little Rock to hire an architect and figure out how much it would cost to renovate the bathrooms, remove one kitchen, remodel the other kitchen, and remove some walls to create larger classrooms.
Secretary and accountant Jenny Calvario said the church doesn’t have a lot of savings. The collections at the mass are used to pay the mortgage loan of the parish. Father Carrasco said the church was severely affected during the pandemic as all donations are made during Mass, not automatic bank drafts like large parishes do.
“COVID hit us pretty hard,” the pastor said. “We couldn’t get together for mass and we didn’t have the money to go home. Physical presence is very important for tithing here.
The extreme cold of February burst pipes in the church and the parish center of Saint-François, damaging the floors.
The small community couldn’t host its festival in 2020 but hosted one this year at the county fairgrounds on August 14, raising $ 30,000, boosted by its very first rodeo.
Without a festival in 2020 and fewer people attending Mass, Father Carrasco said: “We couldn’t pay our bills. Fortunately, the diocese was helpful, but we still owe the loan money.
Parishioners are doing what they can to raise money for their renovation.
“The ladies get together, make tamales and sell them to the chicken factory,” said Cynthia Solis, former director of religious training.
The pastor added, “They stay up all night to get everything ready and at 5 am they go before the end of the shift and sell them to the factory, especially on Fridays.
“They sell like hot tamales,” he laughed.
After Sunday mass, tacos, corn on the cob, and frozen treats are prepared and sold.
Father Carrasco said that the parish must have the support of a church to carry out the necessary renovations to the Saint-François parish center.
“There is absolutely nothing we can do without One Church,” he said.
For more information or to donate once or in monthly installments, visit dolr.org/one-church.
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