First Catholic Church in Danville, Ark., Dedicated
The first Catholic church in Danville, Ark., was dedicated on Jan. 15, giving a permanent home to the predominately Spanish-speaking community that has settled in this Glenmary mission area.
Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Little Rock dedicated Iglesia Católica de San Andrés (St. Andrew Catholic Church) during a Mass concelebrated by pastor Father Neil Pezzulo and fellow Glenmarians Fathers Chet Artysiewicz and Dan Dorsey, Glenmary's president.
Father Neil has pastored St. Andrew from the base mission, St. Jude in Waldron, Ark., since 2003. Since his arrival in this area of western Arkansas, he says, the Catholic community in Danville has grown as many Spanish-speakers relocated there for jobs, primarily in the local poultry plants.
"Ten years ago there was no Catholic Mass in Danville," Father Neil told the Arkansas Catholic, the newspaper for the Diocese of Little Rock. "Now, we have a church that seats 350 people."
The 1,500 square-foot church is a multipurpose design, Father Neil says, with the main body of the church allowing for a worship area, sanctuary, sacristy and parish hall. There are also restrooms, a kitchen and a storage area off the main entrance to the church. For over a year, the congregation rented a former Pentecostal church for weekly Mass.
According to longtime St. Andrew member Jesús Solis, the first Mass in Danville was celebrated 10 years ago in a house with about 20 people attending. The Mass moved around in the ensuing years, from home to home and even to an auto repair shop. Eventually a house was rented until it was sold and torn down in 2003. That's the same year Glenmary arrived in Waldron and Danville and when the Danville community moved to the Pentecostal church building.
The new church building was financed through a diocesan grant as well as through grants from Glenmary and the Catholic Church Extension Society.
"The dedication of this church is the fruition of many years of growth on the part of the community, its enthusiasm for the Catholic faith, and the hard work of all its members," Bishop Sartain told the Arkansas Catholic.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2006 issue of Glenmary Challenge.