2nd annual Ruidosa Church Community Day to be held this Saturday

Courtesy of University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History. El Corazón Sagrado de la Iglesia de Jesus (the Sacred Heart of the Church of Jesus) in Ruidosa, Texas was built in 1915.

RUIDOSA — This Saturday, the Friends of the Ruidosa Church will be hosting their second annual Community Day in Ruidosa. The event will kick off at 2 p.m. and go till 7 p.m., with plenty of free food, drinks and performances along the way. 

The Friends of the Ruidosa Church is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring El Corazón Sagrado de la Iglesia de Jesus, an early 20th century adobe church located in the remote River Road town. The church is notable for its arches, which are the largest standing adobe arches in Texas.

The last Mass in the church was held in the 1950s. The structure was then all but abandoned by the Diocese of El Paso — Pinto Canyon local Donald Judd intended to purchase and restore the building, but those plans never came to fruition. 

In 2019, the Diocese deeded the property to Presidio County in order to start the process of restoration. The Friends of the Ruidosa Church took up the mantle and started raising money for the effort. That project has grown into regular adobe-making workshops, fundraisers and community festivals. 

As a part of their efforts, the Friends have been collecting oral histories of the era and inviting the cornerstone families of Ruidosa to come back and reminisce about their hometown. This year, Marfa Public Radio will be lending recording equipment and expertise to try to collect more oral histories of life in Ruidosa and the church. 

This weekend’s festivities will feature an opening dance by the Matachines de Santa Teresa — a traditional dance group representing Santa Teresa Church in Presidio. The Cariño of the Radio, the alter ego of Jacqueline Del Olmo of Mira Marfa, will provide the soundtrack for the rest of the afternoon with help from the Roswells, a bilingual country outfit from New Mexico. 

The event will also feature a community altar constructed by Jacquelin Zazueta of Marfa, as well as a large-scale sculpture installation by Chihuahua City-based artist Miguel Valverde. Part of the Ruidosa team traveled to Chihuahua City to view Valverde’s studio and prepare the sculpture for shipment.

For Board Member Clara Bensen, the journey west was an important gesture. “We really wanted it to be a cross-border event this year,” she said. Getting the sculpture through customs was a challenge, but folks from both sides of the river helped with successfully transporting the piece. 

Though most of Ruidosa’s born-and-raised residents have moved away, the group hopes that the restored church will serve as a community space for years to come. “The much bigger goal is to create this cultural site on the border,” Bensen explained. “It’s very meaningful to see everyone come together out there.” 

The Ruidosa Church Community Day will take place from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 5. The church is located in Ruidosa on FM 170, just south of the junction with Pinto Canyon Road. Folks coming from Marfa in high-clearance vehicles can take Pinto Canyon Road to the site; otherwise, the church is best accessed by taking FM170 north from Presidio.