When the Santa Rosa de Lima Mission was built 85 years ago, those who helped construct the church in the Old Pascua Village embedded a time capsule into its adobe walls.
On Sunday, the contents of the time capsule will be revealed, and those who attend the opening are invited to bring their own item or add their names to the capsule, which will be resealed. The opening, which will also feature traditional Yaqui dancers and Yaqui food, is meant to help kick off the church’s efforts to help raise money for much-needed restoration work and also so elders in the community who helped build the church have the chance to see what’s inside.
There are only about two people who helped with the construction of the church, 2015 N. Calle Central, who are still alive, said Patricia Noriega Romero, vice president of the church committee.
“I know that there’s documents in there with the names of our elders who built this church, and I’m hoping I’m going to find my great-great-grandfather’s name,” she said.
Aside from the documents, it’s unknown what else is in the capsule, she said.
Longtime members of the church described it as a special place in the community.
“Our ancestors and family members built it when they were young. They built it for the community so we could have religion and things going on for the benefit of the community and the people of the neighborhood,” said Touché Romero, president of the church committee.
He recalled attending a learning center at the church led by nuns who taught the children reading, writing and arithmetic.
When kids completed their lessons, they would earn points that could be exchanged for prizes like toys or gifts that could be given to their parents.
After weekly catechism lessons, the nuns would give the children doughnuts and chocolate milk, treats they rarely got at home, Romero said.
“It was a good experience because it kept a lot of us youth off the streets and not getting into trouble,” he said.
Over the years, the church has received various upgrades completed by donations from members or from sales of menudo and tamales, Romero said.
Previous upgrades include replacing an old military barracks used for the children’s lessons with a permanent building and putting in new tile floors and ceiling fans in the church.
Now, church members are fixing the church’s cracking adobe walls and a leaky roof.
Romero says members are still gathering estimates for the work and have raised about $9,000 so far to help with the effort.