Faith is the real foundation at Holy Spirit Catholic Church.
Broken kneelers. Warped siding. Cracked windows. A sinking foundation. These are just a few of the problems plaguing Holy Spirit Catholic Church. “There have been attempts to shore it up,” said Jim Driedric, property services manager for the Diocese of Little Rock, “but it’s kind of one of those irreversible things.”
Nestled in the small, rural town of Hamburg, Arkansas, Holy Spirit Church is the only Catholic presence for miles around. Many of the parishioners work on local farms and simply don’t have the money to fix their sacred space.
“A Happy Challenge”
The church had all the space it needed before the Sisters of the Missionary Carmelites of Saint Theresa arrived. But now, parishioners have multiplied into hundreds. With so much growth, the church itself has become a multipurpose room for new ministries and activities.
“Last year, we were blessed with these wonderful sisters,” said Father Theophilus Okpara, pastor, “and with this blessing came a happy challenge. Since they have come, the church has been growing. The challenge is – we’re out of space.”
The sisters, with salaries funded by Catholic Extension, have become family to this largely Hispanic community. With gusto, Sister Gisela Rivera said, “We are building the human church. Now it’s time to build the building!”
A Series of Plans
The Diocese of Little Rock has known the church would not last. “You get to a point where you’re putting new equipment in a building that needs so much more,” said Driedric. Father Okpara agreed, adding, “We’re now looking to buy an existing building and remodel it to solve our need.”
Although it seems an unlikely place, Holy Spirit Church may soon call an old tire shop its new home. At a fraction of the cost to build a new church, the community believes the space could be an answer to their prayers.
“We’re very dependent on our own fundraising, which happens at a very slow pace,” said Father Okpara. “The parishioners don’t have much, but whatever they have, they are willing to contribute to the growth of the church.”
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