Nearly 600-acre Catholic community planned in East Texas

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Updated: Mar. 10, 2021 at 10:49 PM CST
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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - A massive Catholic community is in the works in East Texas.

It’s set to sit on nearly 600 acres of land near Winona, complete with houses, education facilities, and places of worship. It’s called Veritatis Splendor − or Splendor of Truth.

Co-founder Kari Beckman says the idea came to her after she noticed a disturbing trend.

“We were facing a crisis of faith when quite frankly the world was faced, for the first time certainly in our lifetime, with a pandemic and I think that that really illuminated the need for hope,” Beckman said.

Funding for the community is coming primarily from donations. They’re looking to raise $22 million to build it.

“We’re hoping and praying, and we know that with God, all things are possible, that he’s gonna call people with gifts and talents that we don’t have to pay for, but rather are going to be gifted to the community and that’s really gonna help us drive down those costs in order to make this an affordable development,” Beckman said.

Beckman says anyone is welcome to live in Veritatis Splendor, but she emphasizes the teachings and rituals of Catholicism will play a large part in everyday life.

“The people who feel called to this lifestyle are going to come,” Beckman said.

Veritatis Splendor is not affiliated with the Catholic Diocese of Tyler and they are not financing any of the project. Bishop Joseph Strickland says the project is something that will help build on their faith, not isolate it.

“I think a lot of the questions I’ve heard about the Veritatis Splendor has been, ‘oh, is it one of these sort of compounds and protecting from the issues out in the world?’ and really, just like with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the spirit that I hear from these families that are developing this project is really exactly the opposite. To strengthen and to support families and individuals, but even from the beginning to reach out and shine the light of Christ in a culture that I think many Christians would agree in too many ways is not shining as brightly as we need to,” Bishop Strickland said.

Part of the reason Beckman decided to bring this community to East Texas is what she calls the area’s strong Christian and conservative values.

“The teachings will be very, very much Orthodox catholic teachings, so this is going to be a very pro-life community, celebrating the life of children and celebrating pregnancy, assisting the community in those ways,” Beckman said.

While no dirt has been moved and it’s not clear how much money has been raised so far, Bishop Strickland says once the community does come to fruition, it will be a model for others around the world.

“A place where the truth that is ancient and ever new, the truth of Jesus Christ can be truly, truly, developed and strengthened and shared broadly nationally and internationally,” Bishop Strickland said.

There is no timeline yet on when construction could begin.

For more information, visit their website.

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