The Southwest's Crumbling Churches





SOCORRO, N.M. (CNS) — The adobe churches that are a scenic fixture of New Mexico’s landscape are crumbling from the inside out.

Father Andrew Pavlak knows this all too well. As the only priest assigned to a parish that encompasses most of Socorro County, his responsibilities include not only his main church, the 400-year-old San Miguel, but another nine churches, including seven made of adobe.

One of them, Sagrada Familia, (Holy Family) in the community of Lemitar, had a major wall collapse in June, after a well-intended restoration project ended up doing more harm than good.

A previous estimate of $38,000 to get Sagrada Familia back into shape fell apart when the church’s northwest corner tumbled down. Father Pavlak said it’s up to architects, engineers and insurance agents to work out the next moves. When Sagrada Familia is rebuilt, he said, the project “will most likely be reducing the size of the church to a much smaller reality of its former self.”...

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