Wednesday, May 3, 2017

It’s almost a modern day Saint Francis story. Justo Gallego is a 91 year-old quasi- Catholic priest living in Mejorada Del Campo, Spain. The Catholic Church has never recognized him or his project, but that has not stopped him from building a church. The town has never approved his building or plans, but that has not stopped him from building a church. He gets little financial support, but that has not stopped him from building a church.
Since the early 1960’s Gallego has been building the Cathedral of Faith brick by brick using mostly recycled material and doing most of the work by hand and on his own. He has no training as an architect or as a civil engineer; he just has a passion and a calling.
His passion came as a result of the desecration he witnessed in the Spanish Civil war when he saw Communists destroy the church in his town and then dance in the street around the brokenness. He knew he needed to rebuild the church, he believed this was his calling. In his words: “When you believe, you can then also rebuild with your own hands a beautiful new place.”
He began with whatever he could find. The church, which is amazingly detailed and quite grand in scale, is built from recycled materials including food tins, misshapen bricks, second hand car tires, and leftovers from construction sites. He is literally building the church from that which the world has discarded and deemed useless.
One of the town’s residents recently commented on the project with these words: “This man has built something incredible against all odds and turned it into a symbol of our town….”
Finding one’s true calling despite lack of expertise, stepping out on faith despite not knowing what comes next, taking what is broken in the world and turning it into beauty, redeeming a terrible moment of history by making it into something more, deciding that one’s own personal calling is more essential than official approval from a hierarchical structure, finding use in what the world says is useless, rebuilding from the dust and ash …
He is not just building a church; he is showing us what it looks like to live like Christ today.

May you, may we, go and do the same.


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