Interior construction is nearly complete at a new church building, next to the old building. Furnishings have been moved from the old building, and the structure stands empty after serving Catholics in San Juan County since 1935.
The new building has been under construction for more than one year.
Construction began on St. Josephs Catholic Church in Monticello in 1934. The building was dedicated on October 9, 1935 by Bishop James Kearney.
The simple stucco building was built on a stone foundation, under the direction of Tom Evans.
It is a bittersweet time for local members of the Catholic Church. While they are delighted to move into a spacious and beautiful new building, they mourn the loss of a sturdy little building that has been their home for more than 80 years.
Julie and Able Garcia were the first to receive Holy Communion in the new building in 1935. The final funeral mass in the building was for Barbara Palerme in February.
Barbara’s grandson Jacob Regalado, and his bride Rachael O’Brien, were the first couple to be married in the new building, on August 15, 2015.
San Juan County has a long and proud Catholic tradition. The first Europeans to step foot in San Juan County are believed to be Spanish explorers who skirted the area while eventually creating a trade route between Santa Fe and Monterrey.
The first permanent settlers founded Monticello in 1888, and they were joined almost immediately by Catholic sheepherders from New Mexico.
A small but resilient population of Catholics have been an important part of Monticello since the first days of the founding of the community.
Dedication of the new building may be delayed until a new Bishop is announced. Previous Bishop John C Wester transferred from Salt Lake City as the new Archbishop of Santa Fe.
While the dedication may be delayed, an open house may be held in coming months. In order to provide off-street parking for a building that large, two parking lots will be located on the property.
The rough outline of a south parking lot is taking shape, while a north parking lot will be built on the site of the old church.