La Sagrada Familia, Pajarito, NM
La Sagrada Familia
Pajarito, New Mexico
In 1921, with the help of relatives and neighbors, Jose and Cecilia Vigil began construction of La Capillita de La Sagrada Familia in Parjarito on “homesteaded” land belonging to Cecilia’s family, in the shadow of San Ildefonso’s Black Mesa. Using adobes made by family members and friends, the chapel was completed in 1924 and served as the center for the tiny village of Pajarito until Congress repealed the Homestead Act in 1937 and made the land part of San Ildefonso pueblo. Jose and Cecilia deeded the church to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe creating an island between the Pueblos of San Ildefonso and Santa Clara.
The residents of Pajarito left in 1937 and 1938, but the chapel has remained a center for Vigil family reunions, picnics and other family functions. The chapel was cared for by members of the Vigil family until 1958 when the organ was stolen. Thereafter, surviving religious items were stored and cared for by members of San Ildefonso Pueblo but after 1958 the chapel was virtually abandoned
In 1990, Churches: Symbols of Community was contacted by Vigil family members, led by Elvie Vigil Ogard, granddaughter of Jose and Cecilia, requesting help in restoration of the chapel. An assessment was performed and the Foundation targeted the chapel as a church worth saving. Needless to say, the entire family, many from out of state, former residents of Pajarito and many other interested parties were ecstatic, rolled up their sleeves and started to work in March 1991. Thanks to the tremendous outpouring of help from family members, sometimes as many as 25, volunteers, donated materials, and the expertise of “Churches: Symbols of Community” under the umbrella of the NM Community Foundation (the forerunner of Cornerstones), the church was completely stabilized and rededicated by the diocese in 1992. However, the preservation effort, including re-mudding the interior and restoring the altar and the ceiling medallions, continued through most of 1996.
Elvie Ogard became a valued Cornerstones board member in 1994 and continued to serve on the board and as a strong supporter for more than 15 years.
The last family function at La Sagrada Familia, attended by family members and friends and many Cornerstones’ associates, was the memorial celebration of Elvie’s life in early October 2016. During the celebration, the Ogard family members announced the establishment of the Elvie Ogard Memorial Fund at Cornerstones for the specific purpose of assisting communities in Northern New Mexico with restoration of their churches.