Father Keller, vocations director with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup, N.M ., grew up in a car-rich environment and never lost his love for automobiles, even after he received a higher calling. When one of Kellers parishioners suggested he restore a automobile, Keller took it a step further. He thought that rebuilding a classic, raffling it off and using the proceeds to send a prospective clergyman to seminary school would be a great way to build frat and do Gods work at the same time.
Ive always loved cars, told Keller, 50. My dad had a super-charged 57 Studebaker Golden Hawk, and my first vehicle was a 64 Malibu SS. My dad taught me a lot most of what I know mechanically and I was in vocational school in high school, so we fixed up the Malibu and about a half dozen vehicles. I sold my vehicle when I went to college( Ft. Lewis College in Durango, Colo .), and it was the worst decision I ever made.
Hes stimulating up for it by restoring a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle SS with the help of seminary students and community volunteers. It will be raffled off on Dec. 12.
The training and development of priests is expensive, Keller said. I thought it would be fun to restore a classic and help one of these young men at the same time.
V-8s for Vocations was born in June 2014 when a parishioner bought the Chevelle and donated it to the cause. It was a daily driver a bit of a basket case, Keller said. In the 17 months since, Kellers team has been working tirelessly to rebuild the Chevelle in Sacred Heart Cathedrals garage. So many people have helped us out with their period and expertise mechanics, car guys, all kinds of people. Some humen have walked into the garage in the back of the church who might not walk through the front doors. The vehicle has given us a great opportunity to minister to them.
Keller is forecast that 50 -6 0 volunteers have played a role in the Chevelle project, but theres a group of about 12 who have been fully committed to it a number with added implication to anyone familiar with the Bible. Its funny and perfect at the same time, Keller said.
Nothing in the frame-off restoration has been overlooked. The Chevelle is powered by a 454 -cid big-block Chevy engine( borne to 468) that generates approximately 450 horsepower and 500 cu.-ft. of torque work led by Brandon Garcia. It has a M20 Muncie four-speed transmission and a 12 -bolt posi stuffed with 373 gears. The frame and suspension have been powder coated, a three-month task led by Phillip Pena. The car has new wiring, steering and front-end components, front and rear inner fenders, floor pans, rear quarterss, clutch, glass, shifter and clutch linkage, gas tank, gasoline lines, brake lines, brake assembly, interior, vinyl top and more. The final touch will be a black and white paint job priestly colours, Keller said.
Raffle tickets are $25 each( available at www.v8forvocations. org ), and the winner will not be required to cover the taxes. Were paying those, Keller told. We want the win to be able to drive the car away without worrying about that. He said date of the drawing is significant because it coincides with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the day of diaconate ordinations, as well as the 75 th anniversary of the Diocese of Gallup and the 60 th anniversary of its Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Keller admits that after nearly a year and a half of run, it will be difficult to see the Chevelle go.
This is my mid-life crisis, he joked. I thought( working on vehicles) was behind me, but God had other schemes. Its been a lot of fun, and its been a style to bring people together. Im trying not to get attached to it only finish the car, raffle it and say goodbye to it.
Until another one comes along.
If God is willing, Keller said, so am I.