Filed Under Religion

Scottsdale's Miracle Mission

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

True to its name, Scottsdale's first Catholic Church has been a standing reminder of the spirit of community in Arizona.

Scottsdale's first Catholic church had somewhat of a miraculous delivery. Initially conceived in the late 1920s, the construction plans for the old adobe mission church hit a major roadblock in 1929 when the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression hit. During its six-year building project, constant aid in the form of favorable sponsors, hard-working volunteers, steady commitment, and donations paved the way for the church's completion in 1933.

The mission church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, earned every bit of its name. The scarcity and economic uncertainty of the Depression era challenged fundraising efforts in the early 1930s. Still, local and distant calls for help were answered. Scottsdale businessman Robert Evans supplied the building designs, equipment, and tools. Donations from Catholic communities in Scottsdale, Tempe, and even as far away as Chicago provided building materials. Teams of volunteer parishioners and Yaqui neighbors crafted adobe bricks and erected the church walls. Adobe construction, formed of natural materials, was relatively inexpensive and practical. Still, at fifty pounds per brick, it made for back-breaking work. Scottsdale tinsmith Bernabe Herrera added the finishing touch: stained-glass windows that retold the Miracle of the Roses story, an inspiration for the church project.

Nothing short of a minor miracle, Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a structural reminder of the incredible feats a community can accomplish when it comes together, even in the face of insurmountable difficulties. Local Anglo and Hispanic businessmen, Hispanic and Yaqui workers, and Catholic parishioners near and far played meaningful roles in the local labor of love that built Scottsdale's first mission church.

Audio

A Winter Miracle Our Lady of Perpetual Help's Miracle of the Roses parade celebrated the Catholic miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe's appearance to Juan Diego in 1531. Written by Megan Keough; narrated by Diana Verdugo. Recorded at Scottsdale Channel 11; courtesy of the Papago Salado Association.

Images

First Communion at the Mission
First Communion at the Mission For years, Catholic residents had no place of worship in Scottsdale. They kept the faith, traveling to churches in Phoenix and Tempe or hosting visiting priests in temporary sites. With a consecrated building, important events like first communion had a permanent home. Pictured with communion participants is Bernabe Herrera,(third row, center right) catechism leader and creator of the church's stained-glass windows. Source: Image courtesy of the Scottsdale Historical Society.
Multi-Purpose Mission
Multi-Purpose Mission The Spanish Colonial Revival-styled mission church served Scottsdale Catholics until the parish outgrew the structure in the 1950s and built a much larger Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) on Miller Road. The former mission housed church organizations, the Scottsdale Symphony, and a local art business. In 2004, OLPH restored the historic mission, and it now serves as a facility for special services and events. Source: Image courtesy of the Scottsdale Public Library.
Robert Evans and Adobe Designs
Robert Evans and Adobe Designs Note the architectural similarities between the Jokake Inn and the Old Adobe Mission Church. Jokake Inn owner Robert Evans drew up the architectural designs for the church and contributed equipment and tools to the construction effort. Source: Image courtesy of the Scottsdale Historical Society.
Bird's-Eye View
Bird's-Eye View This image shows an east-facing aerial view of downtown Scottsdale. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (Old Adobe Mission) was one of the town's earliest structures, appearing just to the right of the intersecting roads in the middle of the image. The church was built in 1933, so this photo is likely from the mid- to late-1930s or 1940s. Source: Image courtesy of the Scottsdale Public Library.
North Brown Avenue, 1950s
North Brown Avenue, 1950s This undated photo shows buildings on the east side of North Brown Ave in Scottsdale. Once considered to be on the outskirts of town, the dark building at the far right is part of Cavalliere's Blacksmith Shop, and on the left is the mission-style bell tower of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Church. Both of these building are on Scottsdale's Historic Register. Source: Image courtesy of the Scottsdale Public Library.

Location

7655 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Metadata

Stephanie McBride-Schreiner and Meghan Keough, “Scottsdale's Miracle Mission,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 24, 2024, https://saltriverstories.org/items/show/27.