Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church

Original Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (Old Adobe Mission), 2009. (Photo by:

New Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church,  November 2011. (Photo by: Ben Tsegai)
Prior to the building of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (OLPH), was the initial Old Adobe Mission that was built by Mexican immigrants in 1933. “[The] site was selected in Scottsdale’s original town near the barrio where the first Hispanics settled as they migrated to the valley to work in the cotton industry”. It was started by a few men with 50 pound adobe bricks, and was later founded that year by around twenty families that made the pews used for kneeling themselves. Many decedents of these families were present at the celebration mass and reception on Oct 14the for the 75th anniversary. Maggie Fabian Castillo recalled, “I was a little girl when my father was building this church”. The first Catholic Church in Scottsdale was completed with 4,000 adobe bricks and 15 stained glass pieces were made by Bernabe Herrera; the tinsmith for Scottsdale. Which have since been restored to its original setting. The old mission was designed similar to the San Xavier del Bac by Tucson. Fr. Hever made efforts to restore the mission in 2000, for it was not as busy starting 1956. This is when the Catholic population shifted and started attending the new Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church that was not even a mile down the road. By 2005, the first four phases for restoring the Old Adobe Mission began. It has since become a monument. In 1977 it even started to be rented out by the Scottsdale Symphony Orchestra.

The new church, had been led for forty years by Monsignor Eugene Maguire, who was a priest originally ordained in Ireland. As the number of followers increased, the pastor opted for a larger space to build a new church. Next door where the pastor was living was a family that owned 20 acres of land for their dairy and poultry ranch. The son, Paul Messinger wrote an article about his former neighbor Maguire after he had passed recently in 2006. Paul’s father and colleague, Charlie Ronan worked at law offices. Paul’s father suggested that he offer the priest their southern 10 acres. Ronan spoke with Maguire and Bishop Daniel Gercke about it and the purchase was made. At the time Miller road where the church is located, was dirt. Families such as the Zimmermans, Schraders, and others were still raising crops and cattle. Presently, Old Town Scottsdale surrounds it. Since, Paul Messinger and his wife purchased three acres from his family and built their first mortuary there. Today they have their own mortuary company called Messinger Mortuaries.

Our Lady of Perpetual Church today serves many community services. It has a catholic school connected to it, facilitated with a Boys and Girls club, volunteer opportunities, regular mass, Sunday ordinations, as well as many outreach programs.

One interesting way the church reaches out is with a particular case of Kate Fogler, who attended the church regularly. She had volunteered for almost three summers at the “Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (Our Little Brothers and Sisters) orphanage in Miacatlan, Mexico”. She had heard about this orphanage through OLPH, and described building relationships and giving the children attention that they couldn’t receive in an orphanage of 500. At one point she was inspired to do more, and started working as a nanny to be able to afford sponsoring a child for $30 a month. It is impressive how the church tries to connect back with Mexico, perhaps because of its heritage with the Mexican people. The original inspiration of the Old Adobe Mission was built by the Mexicans, and there has long been a strong Spanish influence in the area, let alone Arizona.

The original OLPH church has been officially listed as a monument. It is important, for its uses, design, and perseverance, “provides tangible evidence of the local Hispanic families contribution and role in the evolution of Scottsdale”. It has been described as humble and modest, while proudly representing “a high degree of integrity with many intact features that represent the distinctive characteristics of the local interpretation of Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture”.

It is ironic that monumental pieces as the OLPH church, that resonate powerful Hispanic culture coinciding and inspiring the settlement of a permanent town of Scottsdale, can be forgotten when it comes to the topic of immigration restriction. It seems that there is significant quantity and quality of Hispanic, specifically Mexican history and culture.

Yet, SB 1070 is being pressured on the citizens of Arizona. As if the influx of Mexican migrants just started to sporadically pour in, not only uncontrollably, but as a possible threat? It is ironic, that citizens of Arizona fear for their jobs, their culture being “taken over”, and all of their rightful opportunities as citizens being stolen by the Mexican people. They fear the fears of the media. Conveniently this group of people is termed “illegal alien”. Why not refugees? Many citizens of Arizona now look at Mexican illegals and instead of seeing people destroyed by a neglectful government looking for a better life; as other countries have done so thus creating refugees throughout history, they see criminals that are predominantly concerned with drug cartels and the murdering of ranchers. It seems throughout history, manifest destiny has long been the quiet motivation of American Imperialism, and remnants of that ideology still remain within institutionalized power. It is powerfully spread by the overwhelming media. This then creates ethnocentric lawmakers and citizens, thus allowing the Mexican contribution to the culture and history of Arizona, to be more easily forgotten.

- Hannah Al-Ghareeb and Ben Tsegai


U.S. Census Data


➢ Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church Website

➢ Historic Significance and Integrity Assessment Report for Listing Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Church on the Scottsdale Historic Register Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Church

Messinger, Paul

➢ Impact athletes
Bordow, Scott. Arizona Republic [Phoenix, Ariz] 19 Aug 2011: C.8.

➢ Catholic Sun
Scottsdale mission marks 75 years of history.By Ambria Hamme

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