Pierce County parishes put faith in action to build Habitat house

  • Written by Julie A. Ferraro
  • Published in Local
The parishes of the Pierce Deanery are sponsoring their second Habitat for Humanity House in unincorporated Pierce County. Photo: Courtesy Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity The parishes of the Pierce Deanery are sponsoring their second Habitat for Humanity House in unincorporated Pierce County. Photo: Courtesy Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity

MIDLAND – Parishioners in Pierce County have found a tangible way to express their faith — raising $75,000 and contributing manpower to help build another Habitat for Humanity House.

“People want to help,” said Father Jerry Burns, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Sumner and dean of the Pierce Deanery, which encompasses 24 parishes and missions. “It’s a fun project to be part of.”

He said the deanery decided to sponsor a second house after having a good experience in 2016, when it sponsored and helped build a house for Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. That house was built in honor of Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy.


Volunteers write prayers and good wishes on the studs that make up the first walls of the house. Photo: Courtesy Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity

The current project, the 2020 Building on Faith house, is located in unincorporated Pierce County, in the Tyler Court neighborhood of 11 Habitat homes, according to Tracey Sorenson, community engagement director for Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity.

On July 11, parishioners and priests from many parishes gathered to help with the traditional raising of the Wall of Hope, which includes well wishes and blessings written on the wall studs.

Roman Javillonar, a member of St. Michael Parish in Olympia and former parishioner at St. John Bosco Parish in Lakewood, said he drove up to help that day because he feels strongly about being of service.

“I’m a mechanic by trade,” Javillonar said. “My hands are the best thing I can offer. It’s what the Lord has blessed me with. Anything for the greater good of the Lord,” he added.

In the weeks since, members of various parishes have joined the construction team on Saturdays to raise walls and perform other tasks, Sorenson said in an email. Teams from St. Leo the Great and St. Patrick parishes have spent recent Saturdays on the site, and St. Charles Borromeo Parish is on the building schedule for September, Sorenson said. The home, being built for a mom and her 10-year-old son, is scheduled for completion in late October or early November, she added.

The money raised by the Pierce Deanery parishes pays for what Habitat calls the “sticks and bricks” costs of the home, from the foundation to the roof, Sorenson explained.

The money was raised in late 2019, but construction was delayed by several things, including COVID-19, said Dan Fannin, a St. John Bosco parishioner who has been involved with Habitat for Humanity for about 20 years.

Fannin said he started a ministry at his parish that funded a Habitat home in 2012 in honor of St. John Bosco’s longtime pastor, Father Oliver Lee Hightower. A few years later, Fannin took the idea of sponsoring a Habitat home to the Pierce Deanery.

It’s a way to give to the community, Fannin said, and “it gets all the parishes involved.”

Father Vinner Raj of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in Tacoma said a blessing and joined other volunteers from the Pierce Deanery to raise the first walls of the Habitat for Humanity Home home July 11. The home is being built for Jessica, center, and her 10-year-old son. Photo: Courtesy Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity

Parishioners who might not be able to help with construction are helping in other ways, such as providing lawn equipment for the home or making quilts for the beds, Fannin said.

St. Patrick parishioner Chris Kradjan, a businessman who sits at a desk during the week, helped build the home’s garage walls August 8. “It’s different use of my hands,” he said.

Working on the home is “a wonderful service to the community,” Kradjan said, an opportunity for people of faith to collaborate on making a future brighter for a family. “We’re all linked together,” he said.