Oct. 21, 2021 – The National Fund for Sacred Places, a program managed by Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has awarded a matching grant of $250,000 for the restoration of Sacred Heart Church, a Jesuit parish in the Segundo Barrio of El Paso, Texas. This is a 2:1 matching grant, meaning the parish mush raise $500,000 for the grant to kick in.
The parish received an additional grant of $5,000 to be used for its ongoing grant writing effort.
In addition, the El Paso Community Foundation has pledged $60,000 over the next four years for the restoration work. Sacred Heart Parish has contributed $40,000 from its Building Fund. Another $33,707 has been received from 171 individuals since the fundraising effort began last November. Thus, $388,707 has been raised so far.
The restoration of Sacred Heart Church will cost between $2.1 million and $2.7 million. It will cost between $3.9 million and $4.5 million more to restore the adjacent former Sacred Heart School and Jesuit Residence buildings.
Sacred Heart Church, the most iconic building in the Segundo Barrio, was established in 1893 by Fr. Carlos M. Pinto, a Jesuit missionary from Italy, in order to minister to the spiritual and educational needs of the primarily Mexican immigrant community. Sacred Heart Church and Immaculate Conception Church are the oldest Catholic parishes within our city.
Thousands of El Pasoans have been baptized or married in Sacred Heart Church and tens of thousands from both sides of the border have attended Mass or joined community events. Thousands also attended Sacred Heart School, established in 1892. The Jesuit parish has deep roots and connections in the Mexican/Mexican-American community and with the broader El Paso community, and close ties to the many families who reside in the Segundo Barrio, so much so that it has long been known as el corazón del barrio (the heart of the neighborhood).
The buildings of the Sacred Heart Church complex are between 98 and 129 years old and in need of restoration and infrastructural upgrades but the limited financial resources of the barrio parish have made major improvements impossible.
An all-volunteer group is applying for grants and tax credits, raising funds from the community, and overseeing the restoration of the church and adjacent buildings, from the solicitation of architectural bids through the completion of all work.
The executive committee is co-chaired by Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ, the parish’s pastor, and Dr. Max Grossman. It also includes Bishop Mark Seitz, church leaders, elected representatives and professionals specializing in architectural history, historic preservation and related fields.
The Advisory Council consists of professionals and local leaders who are strong supporters of Sacred Heart Church and proponents of historic preservation.
The restoration of Sacred Heart Church will be the first project of its type in the Segundo Barrio National Register Historic District, which will be established by the end of November, thanks to the El Paso County Commissioners Court and Economic Development Department, the Texas Historical Commission, and the National Park Service.
It is the hope of the committee that many other historic preservation projects will follow and that the Segundo Barrio will see an architectural Renaissance in the near future.
For more information or to donate, visit the project’s website, www.restoresacredheartchurch.org.