ELBERTA — The San Isidro Mission community in Elberta gathered Sept. 18 to celebrate the dedication of their new religious education center. For the Mass that preceded the dedication, the church was filled to overflowing.
Bishop Oscar A. Solis presided at the Mass. Concelebrants were Msgr. Colin F. Bircumshaw, vicar general; Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald, vicar general emeritus; and Fr. José Rausseo, pastor. Assisting were Deacon Julio Palomino and Deacon George Reade, chancellor.
“This is a day full of joy and happiness for all of us,” Fr. Rausseo said in his opening remarks, speaking in Spanish. “This is a day when we, the community of the faithful, and the diocese, see our dreams come true.”
Construction of the religious education building “has been a long and arduous walk” that began in 2012, Fr. Rausseo explained, adding that the entire community got involved, and “everyone has participated faithfully and with much love according to their abilities, sharing their time and gifts.”
Although the project started out well, “the times of ‘the thin cows came,’” Fr. Rausseo said. “The pandemic and everything it brought with it threatened this great and wonderful mission.”
Despite the challenges and inconveniences, the community entrusted The Annunciation Education Center to Divine Providence, and “we were able to make it,” he said.
The building was given the name because “just as the Angel Gabriel brought the message to Mary, the first catechist, that she was going to carry the Word of God in her womb; so in the same way the children, the young and the adults will be announced through catechesis that the heart of each one of them will be the womb where the Word of God dwells,” he added.
In his welcoming remarks, Bishop Solis, speaking in Spanish, recalled his first visit to the mission, which came shortly after he was installed in the diocese five years ago. The greeting that he received then is still vivid, he said, especially “all the delicious Hispanic food that you offered me. … For us, the food is a very special part of the celebration that brings us closer and feeds us spiritually and in the stomach.”
After celebrating the Mass in Spanish, the bishop blessed and dedicated the new building.
“We thank God for his blessings, especially here in San Isidro,” the bishop said before cutting the ribbon on the new building. “God has blessed you especially with this new religious formation building where you are a family and the children can learn more about God and our Church teachings.”
The new building is a symbol that the mission church keeps growing, he said, and added, “The Gospel tells us to be good stewards with God’s blessings. Let’s use this religious education center to make our faith stronger and to form our hearts to be missionary disciples of Christ so we can continue building God’s kingdom in our community.”
The education building is connected by a hall to the church. The hall contains bathrooms and an ADA entrance. The building also includes three classrooms, one of which can be divided, office space and storage. Each room bears the name of one of the Doctors of the Church: St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Teresa of Ávila. The additional room was named after St. Margaret in recognition of Margarita Dorado, the founding catechist of San Isidro Mission.
Before the facility was built, religious education classes crowded into various places such as a small chapel in the church and the vestry, Fr. Rausseo said. This year, there are seven families in the family catechesis program, 16 students in the first year of the Confirmation program and 12 in the second year, he said.
A plaque on the building recognizes the Catholic Church Extension Society, “whose generosity has contributed to this church facility.”
“Catholic Extension has provided significant support for the missionary efforts of the Diocese of Salt Lake City for many years,” Msgr. Fitzgerald said in an interview. “Many of our rural missions and our ongoing ministries are supported by Catholic Extension benefactors. The support given for the new classrooms and social hall at our San Isidro Mission in Elberta is a recent example of that ongoing support. The joy and excitement of that Hispanic community during the dedication ceremony reflected their gratitude for the generosity of Catholic Extension and diocesan benefactors.”