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DEVINE-- Juan Davalos considers St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Devine part of his family. His father was baptized at the church the same year it was built in 1922. His father also had his first communion at St. Joseph's.

St. Joseph's is also where Davalos and his children were baptized, and his family has been part of the church community for almost 90 years.

It's always been a place of worship for me and in the church hall it doesn't feel right, Davalos said.

Since last July, parishioners have convened for mass in a church hall, posing an inconvenience for the 600 families who call St. Joseph's home. Now the church seeks help.

We're just trying to reach out and get our church back, Davalos said.

The church, located in the heart of Devine at 108 S. Washington Dr., is no longer safe because the roof is slowly caving in and pushing the church walls out.

Though the church building was secured, exactly what to do once the funds are raised remains unclear. I would like for the church to be torn down and rebuilt - we need a bigger church, Davalos said. It doesn't have restrooms inside, it doesn't have a cry room. It's just an old church.

Davalos said the cost to restore the building is about the same to build a new church from the ground up.Church members are tryingto raise about $2 million over the next three years.

Father Robert Ploch has been with the church for a short time and will find out next June whether he'll remain as pastor. He said the church has a serious job ahead of it and he called the situation both a challenge and surprise. The people will choose how to restore their church, Ploch said. Soon people will know what they want to do and a decision will be made.

As for Davalos, he wants it around forcenturies to come.

For more information on St. Joseph's and to learn more about how the Knights of Columbus, Fr. Jasak Council 5192, are helping raise funds, go to: www.rebuildstjosephs-devinetx.com

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