Sacred Heart benefit will support sanctuary project and more

BENEFIT: Sacred Heart Church in Olema has reinvisioned its annual benefit—a St. Patrick’s Day barbecue—to appeal to its strong Latino base. Many parishioners are aging and others need support.  
06/15/2017

Large signs have appeared alongside roads around Point Reyes Station and Olema in recent weeks, inviting all in the community to the One Heart–One Community benefit barbeque at the Sacred Heart Church in Olema. At the core of these notices is a heart-shaped ornament called a milagro, Spanish for “miracle.” The charm reflects the church’s robust Latino congregation and serves as a rallying call for the community to support one of its struggling Catholic churches. Though Sacred Heart is “hurting financially,” it’s not going to fold anytime soon. The money generated through the benefit will be equally split to support operational costs and its Sanctuary Project program, which specifically assists Latino families in need of shelter and food. Church attendance has declined over the years and, according to Lourdes Romo, a longtime parishioner and the volunteer religious education director, financial hardships have hit everyone across the board. “There’s an aging community within the church, and those that are financially stable and are able to donate are fewer and fewer because everybody is struggling economically,” she said. “That’s how I see it: our families are struggling. Things are tough right now and the church is feeling the impact.” The benefit, from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 25, is the new incarnation of the bygone Saint Patrick’s Day barbecue, which was discontinued a few years ago. Loretta Murphy, who is helping to organize the benefit, said it will “show support for our Hispanic neighbors and friends during this time of political uneasiness.” She said the idea arose out of the success of the celebration for the Virgin of Guadalupe last December. “Things have really started to gain momentum,” she said. “The rest of the community understood they were welcome and it led us to have a festival that is more indicative of what our community is now.” Sacred Heart offers four masses throughout the week, and they’re equally split between English and Spanish. The upcoming benefit will represent “both sides of the aisle,” Ms. Murphy said. The chicken recipe from the Saint Patrick’s Day barbecue will return, served alongside tacos and oysters. There will be Irish coffee and a margarita bar. Part of the proceeds will go toward the Sanctuary Project, a recently established program that was conceived to assist community members in compromised situations, such as living in fear of deportation. The project currently supports 22 people, some undocumented, living around Point Reyes and supplies them with food donations from two local restaurants.