Father Mauricio Carrasco sees more fruits than just money benefiting St. Andrew Church in Danville for the past 12 months.
Through One Church, the diocesan initiative to give a rural or mission church a one-time financial boost, parishes and missions around the state have supported St. Andrew with donations to renovate its large, outdated parish center. Donations from September 2021 to August 2022 totaled $133,000, diocesan finance director Greg Wolfe said. All donations will be forwarded to St. Andrew, which will be used to begin the renovation project.
While $133,000 won’t allow the church to complete the project, it will enable the small mission in Yell County to creatively find ways to adapt the building for faith formation classes and retreats. The former two-story office building was bought by the church in 2013 but has two outdated kitchens and small bathrooms. Offices are now doubling as classrooms but can only hold a handful of students. With only a few parking spots, parishioners must park at the church and cross a busy street to get to the parish center.
“I don’t know if we are going to be able to do it, to be honest,” he said of a complete renovation. “We really haven’t got much.”
It is a dream of the parish to build a parking lot, remove one kitchen and expand and update the other kitchen, renovate bathrooms and enlarge offices for classrooms, the pastor said.
“We want to turn it from a home to a public place,” Father Carrasco said.
Construction estimates have not been gathered yet.
Father Carrasco said the gifts from One Church have caused him to focus on gratitude and appreciate those who helped establish the community and staffed it, including the Glenmary Home Missioners. During Sunday Mass, Aug. 14, Brother David Henley returned for a visit, and the pastor publicly thanked him and his order for their ministry in the River Valley.
The parish can only put money aside for the renovation through food sales after Mass and its annual festival every August. This year’s fundraiser brought in about $15,000. The parish also has another $36,000 set aside from an insurance claim from water damage in 2020.
“It’s been tough, We might not have been successful, but we are just being faithful,” Father Carrasco said of the financial stability of the church.
The One Church support has made the pastor realize that the Diocese of Little Rock does care about small missions such as Danville.
“For a community like Danville to know we have been supported $100,000-plus, that is huge,” he said. “It won’t cover near what we need to do, but the perspective is to be grateful. That is a great amount of love that we have been shown. One way to look at it is it’s a pretty long shot for what we need to do and we didn’t get what we need. One Church has never given any parish $2 or $3 million. For (parishioners) to know the diocese has supported us through this fundraiser, Arkansas Catholic has told our story. That story has touched the hearts of people and brought in over $100,000. Honestly, I think they will be super moved by that. It is OK if it takes us five, 10 years. We just need to be faithful. Fidelity and gratitude. It has meant a lot to me.”
The diocese selected Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Magnolia as the 2022-2023 One Church partner.
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