SALT LAKE CITY - More than a year ago Father Oscar Martinez became pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, and with him came a cascade of improvements.
"Father Martinez has done a lot; he has put all the community to work," said Sofia Palestino, an Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioner who, with her husband, has been very active in all the parish activities.
She added that Fr. Martinez "is very committed. As our pastor he is covering all the areas [and] everyone responds to his requests."
Among the improvements is a remodeled social room; all the work was done by the parishioners.
"We are just finishing the details," said Palestino, adding that the social room will be opened the weekend of June 23.
Until recently, one statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe sat on the floor of the parish. Not anymore. Parishioners built a special altar outside the church and placed the image there. This improvement was made with the idea of giving the parish a sense of a Hispanic church, Fr. Martinez said.
"Each family planted a bush or roses" around the outdoor altar, said Fr. Martinez, pointing out that now the image is surrounded by beautiful flowers.
Painting the inside of the church and the sacristy, relocating to a more central location the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was in the interior of the church, sweeping and mopping every week, making more space for additional classrooms, and having the entire community help to clean the church are just a few of the other things that have been contributed to the renovation effort.
"This is their home; doing these chores has helped them to build a sense of ownership," said Fr.Martinez.
Because the work is distributed among all the community it has helped individuals meet more of their fellow parishioners and establish new relationships.
"The unity of our community is stronger than ever," said Palestino. "We have met families that we have never seen before."
"The community has worked very hard. I am very happy and pleased that they walk this journey with me. This is their home," said Fr. Martinez.