Catholic Extension has awarded $100,000 to St. Augustine Church in Dardanelle, Ark., President Fr. Jack Wall said this week. The money will allow the rapidly growing congregation to increase seating by 75 percent, to 280 from 160.
“People have been standing outside in the cold, heat and rain,” said Father Clayton Gould, St. Augustine’s pastor. “This will alleviate much of the congestion.”
The congregation is growing largely because of Latino workers who have come to work at livestock-processing plants in the area. St. Augustine is the only church with Spanish liturgy in the area and covers a 15- to 20-mile radius, but English Masses are also drawing more Hispanic worshippers, Gould said.
The construction project will also expand the sacristy, bathrooms and vestibule.
The congregation had already raised the majority of the funding, Fr. Gould said. But other costs, such as repaving the parking lot and architect fees, increased the tab.
“So we were $100,000 short—until now!” Fr. Gould said.
Fundraising activities included an event with Mexican food and rides that drew people from all over the area and netted $11,000 in one day.
“They’ve been working so hard to raise money,” Fr. Gould said. “This is just going to be a shot in the arm for us.”