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Chapter Visits Rodey, Shares in Community's Deep Culture

Posted on 04/10/19 by Louise Tracey-Hosa, AARP Las Cruces Chapter Board Member

The little town of Rodey sits just south of Hatch, New Mexico and holds a special place in the heart of AARP Las Cruces Chapter member Abel Chavarria.

Periodically, AARP Las Cruces Chapter 1230 takes field trips to give its members an opportunity to have a fun day out and learn some interesting facts about the surrounding community.

But the trip to Rodey was very special for Chavarria, a Chapter Board Member.  He went home today and 17 members went with him.  The ultimate destination was the historic St. Francis de Salas Catholic Church.

Rodey is little farming village marked in time from the mid 1800’s.  Still standing for over 150 years is St. Francis de Salas in all its splendor. First it was French, then Spanish, the center of life for the small rural community of northern Dona Ana County in the 18th and 19th centuries.   This adobe landmark fills an entire block of the high desert valley known for the best chili in the world or at the very least the Southwest.

Alice, co-owner of St. Francis de Salas, who recently opened a bed and breakfast in the church, was a gracious host, and shared the church history, as she knows it.  Then Chavarria shared his very personal family history when their lives centered around the church and the family elders.  His grandmother, a force of nature from a time gone by, was the center of Chavarria’s young life. His passion was contagious as we went back in time with him.

He spoke of his childhood memories and the one special day the El Paso Bishop came to visit their small town and their beloved church.  How excited the women of the church were to host the Bishop and the extensive preparations needed for the Bishop’s dinner. The women worked so hard to set a beautiful table and delicious food to please the Bishop.  All was a success. Thank goodness.  The group was thrilled to tour the newly renovated church and appreciated the work that was done to restore this landmark to its original glory. Before the group left, Alice turned the church’s bells on. Once calling the community to worship, now beautiful chimes fill the neighborhood.

No road trip is complete without lunch.  Even though Alice provided snacks, attendees were promised a special meal and all were hungry for the very famous Sparky’s food — the best green chili cheeseburgers and barbecue just up the road in Hatch.  As usual the wait line was long and took about 30 minutes to order but everyone was patient.  Sparky’s did not disappoint. The thirsty and hungry group feasted and enjoyed live music before making its way home.

Many in the group thought this outing was one of the best road trips ever.

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