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.