Building a Catholic Community in East Texas

November 03, 2023 00:47:11
Building a Catholic Community in East Texas
Crisis Point
Building a Catholic Community in East Texas

Nov 03 2023 | 00:47:11

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Hosted By

Eric Sammons

Show Notes

Almost three years ago, to much fanfare, a new intentionally Catholic community was founded near Tyler, Texas. Since then it has faced growing pains as well as successes. What is the status today of the Veritatis Splendor community?
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:10] Speaker A: Two years ago to much fanfare in a new intentionally Catholic community was founded near Tyler, Texas. Since then has faced growing pains as well as successes. What is the status today of the Veritai splendor community? That's what we're going to talk about today. Crisis point. Hello, I'm Eric SAMAGE, your host and editor in chief of Crisis magazine. For Get Started, I encourage people to smash the like button, subscribe to channel, let other people know about it. Also, we are on social media at crisis mag at all the various social media channels. You can subscribe to our email newsletter, just go to Crisismagazine.com and we will bug you and make you sign up for it. Also, you can ask any questions you want, just send them to [email protected] and I will address them at some point on a podcast, hopefully soon, the ones that have already come in, such as [email protected]. Okay, so today we're going to talk about the Veritas splendor community, which most people probably haven't heard about much in the past couple of years. And we have a board member, Jason Stern, he lives, he is right now in the Veritas splendor community. So it does exist. Obviously we're going to hear more about how it exists and all that. So welcome to the program, Jason. [00:01:22] Speaker B: Thank you so much for having me, Eric. I appreciate it. [00:01:25] Speaker A: Yeah. And so let's just first start off at the beginning. What is the Veritas splendor community? [00:01:32] Speaker B: So the Veritas splendor community is, I guess just to put it plainly, is a Catholic community in East Texas that we're striving to live out our faith liturgically in community and focus on education and evangelization. And we have lots of hopes and dreams for our mission and vision. [00:01:54] Speaker A: So I know it was like announced, I think it's February 2021. That was just the announcement. So since then, obviously, it's been about almost three years now. I guess I said two years ago, but really it's been almost three years now. So at the time it was announced, it was just a plot of land and there was nothing there. So how many houses are actually built and people living in them right now? [00:02:18] Speaker B: That's what everybody wants to know. That's always usually one of the top questions, is anybody living out there? [00:02:22] Speaker A: Right? [00:02:23] Speaker B: Because when we first came out here, it was just a field. There is one house out here, maybe a couple of barns, that sort of thing. And that was February, right when that article came out. That's how we found out about it. Right now, I would say we probably have about 15 houses that are either built or being built. So we have about 75 lots. The majority of those are sold. There are a few still left in our phase one and we can get into that a little bit later. But I would say houses being built, families living here in the process of moving here, about 15. [00:03:02] Speaker A: Okay, so about 15 people actually families living there or houses built. And you said you have about 75 lots in the first phase, of which most of them I actually went on your website and I looked and I saw the map where almost everyone I was surprised, to be honest. Almost everyone says sold. I think there was one or two or something. It was very few that were actually available in the phase one. We'll talk about more details about the phase one, phase two in a minute. So now whose idea was this? I mean, obviously you're near Tyler, Texas, and I think most of our audience knows who the bishop of Tyler, Texas is. Bishop Strickland. Did he have any involvement in the founding? Is it a certain religious order? Was it a certain like, whose idea was this and how did it get started? [00:03:47] Speaker B: Yes. So there was a group of co founders that worked with Bishop Strickland. We obviously love Bishop Strickland. Like I'm sure everyone that listens to your program does. I can't say enough good things about Bishop Strickland. Pray hard for, obviously. So there's a group of co founders that founded Veritata Splendor, moved it forward, started the process. And since then, some leadership stuff has changed, and we can't shy away from that. But there are some new leaders that have stepped up to serve the community and to serve Vs and to see where the Holy Spirit leads this entire project. I'm blessed to be chosen for one of those positions to really serve the community near and far, whether it's one of those 15 people that are living 15 families that are living here on site or a family that maybe purchased a lot and hasn't made the plunge yet to move here. I'm just very humbled and honored to help serve and to grow the Veritas Splendor community here in East Texas and maybe one day all around the world, because we have families that have moved here from literally all around the world, which is pretty cool. [00:04:58] Speaker A: Yeah. Okay, so let's go ahead and bring up the elephant in the room, because I think it was just about, maybe a few months within the same year of the announcement founding, there was the scandal that a couple of the people who were involved in the leadership and the founding, very high up in the founding of it were involved in a scandal. People can look up the details. We don't have to go into that now. But it was obviously, it was terrible scandals. I think a lot of people thought, well, that's the end of this community, because who wants to be associated with that and things of that nature? So can you explain kind of what happened after that that you're still around today? What were the decisions made also to kind of make sure stuff like that doesn't happen going forward and not that sin doesn't happen going forward, but you know what? I mean, but kind of like checks and balances that are put in place and how did you guys survive and keep going after that, right? [00:05:52] Speaker B: Yeah, like you said, you can do the Google search and find out the details and some of those things, but we have moved past that. There's no ifs, ands or buts. It did happen. There was an inappropriate relationship that really should have been the end of Veritata Splendor, if you look back upon it. But thanks to, obviously the Holy Spirit first and foremost, the support of leadership that was still in place and the support of some families that were still feeling called to be part of this community, everybody kind of rallied together. I'll never forget when I first heard about it. We were actually in the process of signing paperwork. It's kind of a long story. I can get into it later. But we had not signed the paperwork yet on our lot to purchase one of the two acre lots here at Veritas Plunder. But we were like weeks away from doing it, so we kind of obviously, like everybody else, just, okay, what's going on? We wanted answers. There's a lot of questions. And there was a group that got together the end of November, so that would have been November of 2021. And we kind of had a friends Giving, I think is what we called it. Some of the other co founders were there that weren't involved with the scandal. There was families that had purchased lots like us, and then other friends in the community, in the Tyler diocese were and Bishop bishop was there as well. After that meeting, you could just feel that this was not going to fail, that there were people that were willing to step up and make some pretty significant sacrifices, to be honest. Eric both personally, professionally, and really tried to make sure that if this was of the Holy Spirit and this was something that was supposed to happen, that other people were going to pick up the pieces and move forward with it. And we lost some families. They backed out of their lots, which, understandable, we were almost one of them. But at that Friends Giving, I think looking back, that was one of the things where I got to meet some of the other families, families from California, Massachusetts, Texas, obviously all around, and it just made me feel stronger about being there. And one other thing on that is at that friends giving, as we called it, it was the first chance that I got an opportunity to meet some of the other families, like I mentioned, some of the other leadership that was still in place, and also Bishop Strickland. And I'll never forget bishop Strickland, as he always does, gave a wonderful kind of talk to the families. But he ended with if Veritata's Splendor is of the Holy Spirit, there's nothing that's going to prevent it from being built and moving forward. And I think we've found that out that this community needs to be built. There's important things that need to be done, and there's a lot of faithful Catholics out there. And I'm not anybody special. I'm just an average Joe from Minnesota that really felt a calling to come down here. I think there's a lot of people like myself that are craving that, especially at this time, and just want to be part of something where you're putting your Catholic faith first and actually doing it. And that's what I found in that room at Friends Giving and continue to find to this day here at Vs. [00:09:43] Speaker A: When did you actually move to the community? [00:09:45] Speaker B: So it's kind of a long story. Hang with me. We sold our house in Minnesota in November of 2021. Sorry, october of 2021. Right before the scandal hit. We had already sold our house. We were basically homeless, but we had bought a motor home and we had plans to kind of travel around while we discerned, signing that paperwork and moving to Vs. We wanted to go to Florida, check that out one more time. We had been to Ave Maria, we were looking like Sarasota and some of those different things. But we bought the motorhome and we're like, you know what? We're set up with my job, my wife home, schools, it's all kind of coming together where we can discern and pray and go on this created family adventure at the same time. So we sold our house in Minnesota in November or sorry, october 2022. Scandal Hits November 2022. We go to friends giving back in at the end of November 2022. [00:10:53] Speaker A: November 2021. Right. [00:10:55] Speaker B: I'm sorry, 2021. Yes. Getting my years mixed up, it all flows together. So November 2021, and then we traveled around and came back to Texas. And as we traveled around from Florida to Texas to Arizona to California and back, kind of chased the sun. It was March of 2022 now. I got my years right, march of 2022 when we came back and actually signed the paperwork on a lot of erita, Splendor and the building process, trying to decide on a builder and going back and forth on. Do you do a modular home or what do you want to actually build out here? Took us a little bit longer than we had anticipated, just due to our own fault because we didn't know exactly how to do it. So we started building our house in November of 2022, and we actually just moved in in July, so about three months ago, and we moved in. I think people find this funny. We moved in a week after our 6th child was born. We had some major events this last July. [00:12:04] Speaker A: Yeah, I guess so you were basically living in the motorhome during all that time? [00:12:10] Speaker B: Mostly, yes. After we signed our paperwork. So we would drive every time we kind of go back and forth so we were in the motorhome. I know I'm skipping around. I apologize. I'm skipping around. But we were in the motorhome. We left minnesota October of 2021, and we drove as far south as we could because minnesota is cold. We want to chase the sun. We drove the south padre island, and that's when we actually heard about the scandal. I'll never forget. I'm walking back from the beach with my family, and we're going back to our motor home, and I get a text. Then I get another text, then I get another text. My phone's blowing, so obviously I check. And the first one I read was from a former neighbor back in minnesota, and we had a great life back in minnesota. I can talk more about that later if you want. But she texted me and said, oh, I guess this means you're moving back to minnesota. And I was just like, what is she talking about? I had no idea. And then obviously we found out more of the we we left there. We came back to the friends giving at the end of november with our motorhome, drove it to tyler, texas. And then after we left friends giving, we're like, okay, we got to really discern and pray about this more. We actually spent christmas out in san diego in our motorhome and then came back to texas again to check it out and make sure that this is where we want to be. Then we went to florida for that, like I mentioned earlier, to kind of check that out one more time in our motorhome. We were in sarasota. We went down to the keys and really prayed about it and really wanted the holy spirit to guide us and to lead us. And all that time, eric, my wife, myself, my kids, we kept missing texas and everything kept pulling us back to texas, to east texas, to veritata splendor. It was just something it's hard to describe. It's kind of that holy spirit moment. It was pulling us back there. So we signed that paperwork in march. We actually went back to minnesota in our motorhome for the summer, and then we actually sold the motorhome and started renting in tyler, texas, because we just couldn't wait to become part of the community. And that's the nice thing about east texas and tyler. It's not just the veritata splendor community here. There's a very strong catholic community at the cathedral, at the chapel in tyler, there's an FSSP church, st. Joseph the worker, and we've kind of become part of all those different communities. And it's just beautiful what god is doing in east texas. And obviously a lot of that credit goes to bishop strickland. [00:14:56] Speaker A: Okay, so I want to get in that a little bit more. So at crisis magazine, not that long ago, we ran an article like ten top places to raise your family. Catholics could raise their family and a couple of those. Some were just big cities that have good Catholic communities and such like that. And then of course, there's Steubenville, which is well known because of the university there. And then Ave Maria, which I think is the closest thing to verita's splendor. Very similar to it in that fact that Ave Maria was intentionally planned as a Catholic community. I mean, student will just happen because the university and other places. So my question is, why did you choose Veritas Splendor over, for example, living in a city like Kansas City or something like that, where there's good Catholic community or a place like Steubenville or even a place like Ave Maria, which is very similar in a lot of ways to what Veritas Splendor is trying to do. Why vs. [00:15:48] Speaker B: Right? That's a good question, Eric. I would say the main reasons why we chose East Texas and kind of why we landed here was obviously Bishop Strickland. Bishop Strickland played a huge role in our decision. Quick story. And it's funny how careful what you say, right? Like how God works and has a sense of humor. I remember during COVID during Lockdowns, my wife and I were talking and kind of discerning on what we wanted with our Catholic faith. And she stumbled upon Bishop Strickland in some of his writings and talks. And she sent him to me. And I'm like, wow, I had never heard of Bishop Strickland before. Again. This is during COVID And she's like, you got to listen to this. You got to read this. And who's it from? Oh, bishop Strickland. Again, Bishop Strickland. And I'm like, that's all great. Where is he a bishop? And she's like, Tyler, Texas. And I'm like, where in the world is Tyler, Texas? And she's like, oh, wouldn't it be amazing if we lived in his diocese? I'm like, there's no way I'm moving to Tyler, Texas. I don't even know where it is on the map because of a bishop. And then you flash forward about a year later, here we are hearing about the community and Bishop Strickland. It's in Bishop Strickland's diocese. And it's funny and ironic to me of how just within a year's time you can do kind of a 180 on everything and how that works. So Bishop Strickland was a big reason why we moved here, I would say. Another thing where we kind of narrowed it down. Like I mentioned, between Texas and Florida, we wanted space. We wanted open land. We wanted a little bit of land so we could have a garden, so we could have some animals, so our kids could run and just be kids. And we fell in love with the land when we came out here and saw the beautiful spot of where they want to build an oratory or shrine one day. All the different, really. I can't even begin to describe the sunrises and the sunsets out here in East Texas are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. So the land was definitely an issue in Florida because in Ave Maria, you're right next to your neighbor. That's great if that's what you're looking for. But we were looking more for kind of wide open spaces for our kids and we definitely found that here in East Texas. [00:18:29] Speaker A: How big is your lot? [00:18:31] Speaker B: So ours is just under two acres. We got one of the smaller ones. I think ours is like maybe not even it's probably closer to an acre and a half rather than two. But most lots out here are about two acres. Some are three, but most of them right around two acres. And in Florida, too. There's a lot of gators in Florida, Eric. I can't do gators with little kids, but actually when we were driving around out here, there's a couple of ponds on site at Veritata Splendor and John the realtor, we were driving through the open fields, just okay, trying to envision where the different lots are. And then you see some of the ponds and he's like, and we've never seen a gator in there, but it's not uncommon that they come up in East Texas. Sometimes you hear, I'm like, what? No, I thought he was but so I couldn't escape the gators. But I haven't seen any. [00:19:25] Speaker A: Here's my story. The first time I ever went to Ave Maria, I used to live down about hour and a half north of Ave Maria. First time I went down to visit, I'm getting ready to turn into the street that goes into the community, into Ave Maria, and there is an alligator walking across the street there. So I was like, oh, I was living down there, so I already knew about them. But there is definitely gators. It's built right next to the Everglades. So, I mean, obviously you're going to get down. [00:19:56] Speaker B: I was actually disappointed I didn't see one from my car. I didn't want to see one in person, but from my car, we didn't see any. But some of those homes are backed up right to those ponds and they don't have a fence. [00:20:08] Speaker A: The first house when I moved down to Florida, not Ivy Maria, but I was up in Venice, Florida, we rented a house for a year and it was only its communities and it backed onto a pond, pretty large one, too. And the first day we were there and there's no fencing, first day we were there, alligator just swims right by and it's probably maybe 1015ft from our yard. It was pretty funny. Definitely have that. So not trying to boot on Ave Maria, Florida, but just a great place. [00:20:40] Speaker B: We went to Mass there. They got a lovely downtown. Love Ave Maria, Florida. [00:20:44] Speaker A: Yeah, just without the gators. [00:20:47] Speaker B: Not the gators. [00:20:48] Speaker A: So you mentioned how the plan is to have an oratory there in Veritas Blender. What is the status now as far as going to Mass? Is there a church nearby. Is there anything uniquely about that or do you just have to drive to wherever the local parish is? [00:21:04] Speaker B: Great question. So that was another main reason of why we chose here is we can walk to Mass from our house. We have a chapel. The Holy Family Chapel. It's run by the Pious House community here. Pious House is priests and seminarians. They offer reverent liturgies for us. The Pious House, they're living in a stable community nearby in Tyler and then they're given apostolic work by the bishop. [00:21:40] Speaker A: Are they with a specific religious order? [00:21:44] Speaker B: So they're forming it. Okay. So people can go to our website and learn more about the Pious House. We have their link right on our website. But the Holy Family chapel is complete. There's some things we want to like we're getting a Mary and Joseph statue that are still coming in. We had a generous donor that's donating those. So there's some things that are still being added to the chapel. But the great thing, Eric, is that I think one of the things that maybe the original founders didn't think of when they were planning the chapel and maybe that oratory shrine on the hill is we actually have a lot of interest from local Catholic families that aren't even living at Veritata Splendor, that have become involved in the community that come to Mass. I would say right now it's probably 50 50 on whether it's a Vs family or a family that lives in the nearby area that is coming to Mass every Sunday. There's daily Mass as well. And it's just been a beautiful thing of bringing these different communities together. So the Holy Family Chapel is actually we're in the midst of raising funds to expand it. And we just opened it a year ago, right? Yeah, it's been about a year ago. A little over a year ago we opened it and now we have to expand it because the masses are full. It's beautiful. And then the Oratory enshrine on the hill, there are a lot of, how should I say it? Hopes, dreams, visions for Veritata Splendor and a lot of hopes, dreams and visions take a significant amount of money to accomplish. And of course, with the Holy Spirit leading first and foremost, so we're still in the midst of raising those funds. We have dedicated committees and teams even outside the board that are working on what that timeline, how that looks compared to the original vision that the co founders had. So I can humbly say that a lot of things have changed. Kind of where did Veritada Splendor go these last two years? And a lot of things have changed and a lot of things have stayed the same. And we're still trying to pray and discern with the people that move here, with the people that buy lots, with the people that are interested in helping us grow vs of what that mission and vision kind of turn into with the Holy Spirit leading us. [00:24:20] Speaker A: Is there a Catholic school there or basically everybody homeschooling or what's going on with the education for the kids? [00:24:26] Speaker B: Yes, great question. So there isn't a Catholic school on site. I would say maybe 80% of the families home school. That was another one of our deciding factors on the Tyler area. There's a really strong homeschooling community amongst the St. Joseph the Worker, amongst the cathedral, amongst the Veritas Splendor families, my family, my wife homeschools, our children, and we're part of that. So there are plans for exploring kind of an educational aspect a little further. At Veritata Splendor right now. We also have the Pious House. Father is teaching some classes to the homeschooling community, or it could be a public school or whoever can join it. It's not just exclusive to Vs families. Again, there's families coming from all over that attend those classes. So he's offering those classes. I believe I should have did my homework. I think it's maybe three or four days a week, if not five. He also offers adult classes as well at night. They're super involved. And then also some of the Vs families have started just this year. It's only a few meetings in, but on Wednesdays they have a Catholic homeschooling co op that they've started. So there's just all sorts of different opportunities. And then, of course, in Tyler, there's St. Gregory's Catholic elementary, which gets really great reviews. And then there's Bishop Gorman, which was just rated, I believe, one of the top Catholic high schools in the nation. They got a fairly new principal there that is doing a great job as well. So there's lots of educational opportunities for sure. [00:26:15] Speaker A: Geographically, how far away is actually Tyler itself from Veritata's Slender? [00:26:20] Speaker B: So depending on where you want to go in Tyler, we kind of got it down. It takes us to go to the 20 to 40 minutes. Wherever you want to go in Tyler. I would say 20 minutes. It takes about 25, 20 minutes to get to the cathedral from our place. I would say probably 25 minutes from our place to get to the cathedral in Tyler. If you want to go to South Tyler and some of those areas, that's where you get into the 40 minutes. But, yeah, it's obviously a very easy commute coming from the Twin Cities. I don't have to worry about that traffic. [00:26:54] Speaker A: I drive longer than that just to go to my parish. I remember when Ave Maria was first built, it was out in the middle of nowhere, basically just slapped onto a swamp. I mean, these things make it sound like I'm anti Ave Maria. I'm absolutely not. I remember it was very much out in the middle of nowhere and they didn't have a gas station until I think it had been like five more years that they'd been there before they had a gas station come into town. So my question is Veritas Splendor similar to that at this point, do you have to go pretty far away just to go grocery shopping or get gas or something like that? [00:27:31] Speaker B: Yeah, of course. There's in the little town that is closest to Veritata Splendor, which is Winona, Texas. There's a gas station, there's a couple of little restaurants. There's kind of a convenience store where you can get milk if you forget it at the grocery store. But we do all our main shopping in Tyler, so we kind of make a day of it. Today my kids are going in for there's a Catholic it's just one of the events that are going on here. There's Irish dance and they take an Irish dance class in Tyler and then my wife runs her errands and gets her things done before and after that Irish dance. So you kind of get in a new habit. But I think that's one of the beauties of kind of being out here amongst the open land of God's great creation, right, is the peace and quiet of just being out here, like you said, in the middle of nowhere. We have the conveniences nearby, but it's kind of the best of both worlds, I like to say, because it's just beautiful out here now. [00:28:40] Speaker A: Okay, a couple of concerns I think people have with these communities. First of all is there is the idea that it becomes a bit and we've seen this with other communities in the past where it becomes a bit cult like. And here's a good example. My wife actually brought this up before I told her I was going to be interviewing this. She's like, what is it just like day to day as far as interactions with the other Catholic families? Here's kind of a funny example. What if my kids read Harry Potter but other kids, they don't want their kids and families like, no, I don't want my kids reading Harry Potter. Is there some type of like are there rules about that or is it more just kind of like no, you just do your thing. I mean, how does that interactions happen like that, right? [00:29:27] Speaker B: So I'm glad you brought up the C word cult because my family was actually really concerned. You're doing what? Where are you moving? [00:29:38] Speaker A: Is that a mean david Kresh was in Know. [00:29:43] Speaker B: Yeah, right. We are not a cult. We are not a cult. What I like to say is we are families all just striving for sainthood. And like I said, I am just a simple, average guy just trying to be a good Catholic, a good husband and a good father. So to bring up your example of like if another family likes Harry Potter and my kids don't read Harry Potter, which we don't, that's fine. We're all working together. And if we're trying to be this heaven on earth which we all know does not exist, we're going to fail. It's been a roller. Coaster of a ride at Vs already and there's going to be disagreements, there's going to be families that don't agree on this or that. And the main thing is obviously communication. And I feel like we have our Catholic faith as the foundation where I can go to another dad in the community if there's something arises, a problem or something that arises with their children a lot easier because we have that common bond of we moved across the country and we don't know anybody else here. These are our brothers and sisters that we're trying to help out and I think that's how we can actually help each other learn and grow and become stronger in our faith. And again, hopefully one day become saints because of those things that pop up and instances that come up and they do and they have and they will continue to. It's just you got to keep talking through them and finding that common ground and then agreeing to do what's best for your family while living amongst in the Catholic faith, obviously. Yeah. [00:31:34] Speaker A: Now, are there RA set up certain rules in the community? Like, for example, one of the controversial things that happened Ave Maria, I remember at least outside the community was when they said no businesses could sell artificial contraception who set up in the town. And so a lot of Catholics, that's great. But then of course that became controversial in the secular world. But are there rules already in place? Because I know the plan is to eventually have businesses also in the community. Are there rules, like for businesses, for families that are in place to kind of ensure a certain level of Catholic life there or is that kind of for the future? [00:32:13] Speaker B: Right. So we're open, our community is open. You don't have to be Catholic to move to Veritata Splendor. It's obviously encouraged and a lot of the events that we do, not a lot, all of them are centered around our Catholic faith. But you don't have to be Catholic to move here. And we actually have a family that I keep praying that maybe one day they'll actually become Catholic and they're just as involved as some of the other ones. So right now I don't think there's any set rules because actually I take that back. So we have an HOA that has the rules for all of phase one and how big of a house you can build, how little of a house, all those different things that come up with an HOA. And that's obviously just protection for the community and somebody's not having 500 goats or whatever it is. Right. So there is an HOA. So those rules apply. But you're right. We want to have businesses in the future. We want to have that oratory, or shrine on the hill. We have all these hopefully we want to have a larger retreat center and maybe you turn the chapel into an adoration chapel once you have that church on the hill. So we have all these other things and those honestly Eric, are some of the things that we're still working through. There's a lot of things that I think we're learning because the one thing to keep in mind is nobody here is getting paid for any of this. We're all volunteers. I'm a volunteer board member, I'm a volunteer community member when we're hosting our different events and things like that. I have actually two other full time jobs and this is something that I'm just super passionate about and feel our family is called to. So some of that stuff is still being worked through. I mentioned earlier we not only have a board that helps direct some of those things, but we have committees that are working on some of those things in addition to the HOA. [00:34:12] Speaker A: Now, practically speaking, I know there were some criticisms when you guys first start off about the cost that would be expensive and whatnot. Practically speaking, so you said is there only two acre lots, is that the only thing you can get there? [00:34:25] Speaker B: So right now it is. Two acres is the only ones that we have. And like you mentioned earlier, we only have a couple of those left. Now over the past two years, there's some families we've had tragedies out here where a family member has passed away. We've had other families discern out and go back to California. So there are some private sales as well. So overall there might be like five, six, seven lots that are for sale, some of those other families. So once those ones are sold out, I guess once those last five, six, seven lots are sold out, we are exploring phase two is what we're calling it. There's been a lot of different ideas. And some of those lots are smaller. Some of them are half acre lots which would be a little bit more affordable if somebody is looking just to have maybe a place here on a smaller piece of land and they're not interested in having animals or a big garden like we were. So that is more to come, I guess. Make sure to check out our website, kind of hear more about phase two and hopes and dreams for that. [00:35:33] Speaker A: So what is a two acre lot? What does that kind of go for? Ballpark. [00:35:38] Speaker B: Yeah, so we should have did the podcast a little earlier because we just ended a sale on some of the lots. We actually sold three lots over the weekend. We had our main event celebrating John Paul II St, pope John Paul II. We had our JP 2 October Feast and we had a sale on some of the remaining lots and we sold three of them. And so we'll have three more families that are going to be closing on those lots here. So those ones were a little bit cheaper, but I would say the average is probably right around 90,000. And a lot of times people are like, well, what's that compared to other two acres in the area? Some of the things you got to think about is that includes the infrastructure, right? So the roads are going in, the electricity has to be put in. The water has to be put in if you were just going to go buy two acres in Random, Texas. So a lot of that stuff is what makes that price a little bit higher, maybe in some people's eyes. But frankly, we didn't move here because of the price of the lot. We didn't move here because we were going to because it was a good deal or anything like that. We moved here for what Veritas Flander could become and what the people that we've met, and obviously with Bishop Strickland, that's why we moved here. We made a lot of sacrifices. Our family thought we were crazy for leaving Minnesota. My business was doing well. I was making more money than I'd ever made in my entire life. We were in a great neighborhood. We were in a top ten suburb of the entire United States back in Minnesota, and we still felt something was missing. And I actually just dropped my mom off at the Dallas airport. She lives back in Minnesota, and she told me, you guys are right where you need to be. It just feels like home. I don't know how else to describe it just feels like home here now. [00:37:39] Speaker A: Is the plan of the layout that everybody will be able to walk to the oratory when it's set up? Is that kind of the idea? Or will they need cars and whatnot to get there? [00:37:50] Speaker B: So I would say maybe a bike or a golf cart or something like that. You could drive. People will drive if a lot of the families are like mine and you're trying to get all the kids and scramble and trying to get them in the car to get the mass. So I would say that you could definitely walk to Mass when that's built because it's the highest point out here at Veritas Splendor. And I had no idea what East Texas looks like coming from Minnesota. I didn't know this kind of Texas existed, to be frank. But you got tall piney woods and rolling hills, and again, that just makes those sunsets and sunrises all the better. So yes, people will be able to walk the mass. Some people might choose to take a golf cart or something like that, but it's super quick. Five minute drive, tops. [00:38:50] Speaker A: Do you know actually how big the entire Veritas Splinter community is? Like, how many acres is the whole thing? [00:38:57] Speaker B: Yes, good question. So I think it's just shy of 600 acres. So there's a lot of woods, obviously. There's all the lots. There's a potential for phase two. There's two lakes, there's some areas for trails and different things like that. But it's just shy of 600 acres. [00:39:16] Speaker A: Okay. Now, one of the big, I think a lot of people you hear this as well, the criticism. What about the idea? Are you guys escaping from the world? Are you trying to just get away from the world? Is this like a monastic community? Are you trying to be hermits? Aren't we supposed to live inside the world to impact it? What would you say to that? [00:39:37] Speaker B: You're hitting all the questions we get all the time, Eric. So what I would say to that is I like to use a quick example, but what I initially say to that is, no, because we have to be a light in the world. We have to go out and proclaim our Catholic faith and save as many souls as possible, right? If it saves a soul, what's more important than saving a soul? And what I find and what I think veritata Splendor is, at least to me. And I am still learning and growing in my faith, but it's the support of others to help raise me up, so then I can go out and know how to have a conversation, know how to evangelize and to go out in the world and be that light. And a quick story. So when we were back in Minnesota, and it was right before COVID our kids were in a Catholic school, and it was a great Catholic school that we thought, but I have identical twin daughters, and they were in class, one of their best friends in class, she wasn't Catholic, she was another religion. And what I found is, if you have a shy kid at that age, children can be influenced by so many different things. Right. They were actually being influenced by this other religion at a Catholic school because they weren't strong enough in who they were to be influencing that person to become Catholic. So it could almost have a reverse effect. So what I always tell people is, what I think of Veritas Splendor is, you know what? We have our children until they're 18. We can form them and guide them and protect them and try to pour into them everything that we have. And then once they turn 18, yeah, then we send them out into the world to be that light of the world. But if they don't have that foundation, if they can't communicate and stand up in the truth and why they're Catholic, we see it all the time. I work for a Catholic nonprofit, and I hear stories all the time of my kids went and I raised them Catholic. They went to Catholic school and then they went out in the world. Now. They're not Catholic. They're not practicing their faith, they're not doing this. So I think the argument of should we go out in the world is, absolutely, but for our children, we have to form them and give them the tools and that foundation, and then you send them out. Because if you send them to the wolves at age five, it's going to be a whole lot different experience than if you send them to the wolves when they're 18 and they have a foundation of their faith. Because I didn't grow up that way. I did not grow up with that foundation. I was a check the box Catholic and I found the faith and came to being able to stand in the truth and really put my faith first a lot later in life. It's amazing what some of these kids out here are learning and they're years farther than I was at that age. [00:42:44] Speaker A: One thing I forgot, I was going to ask earlier and I forgot about what's the weather like in taller Texas in that area. I mean, I have a daughter. I did notice that when you mentioned all the places you were after you left Minnesota, san Diego, Sarasota, Florida, Texas, I saw a trend there. So what is the weather like down there? Is it brutally hot in the summer? I mean, does it snow ever? And what's it like down there? [00:43:11] Speaker B: So obviously we've been here for a short time and compared to Minnesota, so we haven't seen any snow. We saw flurries last winter and my kids got so excited they thought we were going to get like twelve inches of snow like we do back in Minnesota. They were so excited running around in the snowflakes. So we saw those once. The weather, I think right now it's beautiful here. The summers have been really hot. So I compare it to so my wife, she went to school in Arizona so she knows about the heat in the summer and she told me the summers here are basically our winters back in Minnesota. But winter back in Minnesota could go from October to May. Here in Texas, at least what we've experienced is June, July and August. Those months can be pretty hot, but the rest of the year I think it's great. We get a lot of rain to keep things green and things like that. But I kid you not, I was just telling my mom when I was taking her to the airport again, it always seems like the sun is shining here and I think that makes a huge difference. I've been to Portland and Seattle and Minnesota in February is cloudy, it's gray. I don't experience that here. It just always seems like the sun is shining, which I think makes a big difference weather wise anyway. [00:44:33] Speaker A: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, I think we're going to wrap it up here, but I'm going to link people to the website so people can find out more about the community. Is there anything else? What is the plan over the next one year, five years for people who might be interested? Kind of what is the plan going forward? I know you can't say like ten years from now, who knows? But like in the next one to five years, kind of what's the plan and what can people be looking forward to? [00:44:59] Speaker B: So if you go to Splendourhq.com Splendourhq.com, we like to update that with kind of all the different plans. We have different events that are coming up. I think the next one to five years will largely be determined upon the people that are most active in Vs, whether it's a lot owner that's here or a lot owner that's still in California trying to get here. I think a lot of those factors are going to be determined by both of them. But in the next one to five years, we're going to continue to grow. We're going to continue to add different amenities to the community. The Pious House will continue to serve and provide the sacraments for us. And we're going to grow stronger as a community, and there's always going to be ups and downs, and you use the roller coaster analogy, but we're kind of learning as we go and as long as we keep, like Bishop Strickland always says, as long as you keep Jesus Christ first and foremost. And that's what we always come back to. As long as we are keeping him first and looking to him, this community is going to do well and a lot of different things here in the next one to five years and hopefully forever. [00:46:12] Speaker A: Sounds good. Okay, so like I said, I'll link to that website in the description so people can go to it. I appreciate your time here, Jason, and it sounds like it's working out well for you, at least so far. And hopefully I'm a big believer in the more the better. As far as options for, you know, whether it's Steubenville or Ave Maria or Veritas Splendor or cities like Kansas City or Know in our world that we're in today in which it's very difficult to be Catholic in a lot of places, it's nice to have some options at least that we can look towards. [00:46:46] Speaker B: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Eric. You can come visit anytime. I'll give you a personal oh, perfect. [00:46:50] Speaker A: Perfect. Sounds good. Okay, thanks a lot. Okay, until next time, everybody. God love.

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