Parishioners at St. Joseph Parish in Fayetteville have endured for 20 years without a permanent sanctuary, but this fall they will break ground for their new church.
Fundraising has been going on for years in anticipation of that groundbreaking, and an added source of funding this year will be St. Joseph’s annual garage sale, which runs from June 30 to July 9. While the money from this garage sale typically goes toward the parish general fund, the profits from this year’s sale will go toward funding the new church building.
Cindy Stophlet, one of the main organizers of the annual garage sale, said she has high hopes for this year’s event.
“This is definitely a community event,” Stophlet said. “We have volunteers who come together as a team, and we all put this on. Last year, we made close to $22,000, so we’re hoping to do the same this year.”
The garage sale doesn’t serve only as a way to make money; it’s also a method of evangelization for the parish.
“Every year, we see a lot of new faces, and we have people returning,” said Stophlet. “All kinds of people come in, and they learn more about St. Joseph and the Catholic faith as they come.”
“It’s great for parish-wide involvement,” said Bob Mahler, director of parish life at St. Joseph and another of the garage sale’s leaders. “We ask people to bring in any items they'd like to be part of the garage sale, so we get a great response across the parish. And we spend close to eight or nine days just accepting donations in preparation for the actual sale itself.”
Because the garage sale is such a big undertaking, it requires a lot of parish involvement.
“This goes on for an extended period of time,” Mahler said. “So if you think about (June) 23rd through (July) 9th, and then we do a cleanup on the 10th, you're looking at 17 days.”
“It's time-consuming, but we have a wonderful group of people that help,” Stophlet said. This year, we have a lot of people that are returning to help. Men, women, high schoolers come and help us with the tools and pricing.”
As one of St. Joseph’s biggest fundraisers, the garage sale’s proceeds will go entirely to the construction of the new church, which is set to begin in late 2023 or early 2024.
“Every donation helps, especially given today's environment,” Mahler said. “We've seen building costs and other things really inflate in recent years. This garage sale becomes a key component for funding, especially because we're doing it every year. So think about building a new church. This will continue to give to the church for years and years as we go through construction and as we then pay off our loans. It’s important as part of the funding process.”
St. Joseph Parish moved to its current site in 2002, when construction finished on a worship center and school. The worship center has served as a sanctuary ever since. The plan to construct a freestanding church began in early 2017, when the parish purchased more than seven acres of land adjacent to the existing campus. In the fall of 2021, a $5.5 million capital campaign kicked off to raise money to build the new church.
Designers have taken inspiration from many churches around the state and the country, including St. Mary in Altus, Subiaco Abbey and cathedrals in Little Rock, Savannah, Ga.; Austin, Texas; and Chicago. The proposed church will have seating for more than 650 parishioners and offers the opportunity for expansion in the future.
“We have a big community,” Stophlet said. “We have over 2,500 families. As far as where we meet and where we do things, we have limited space, so this will help in numerous ways and allow a lot of other activities to occur on site.”
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