Hawzah News Agency (Texas, US) - "They assured us of a better tomorrow," said Omar Rachid, Victoria resident and congregation member, adding, "It was really emotional. I cried when I started seeing familiar faces."
Rachid and other members are repaying that generosity with an invitation to an open house Saturday at their newly completed mosque. Mosque members also have invited the 25,000 donors from more than 90 countries who collectively donated more than $1.1 million to the reconstruction through a stunning Gofundme.com campaign.
"We want to express our appreciation, our indebtedness and our gratitude for all they have done," Rachid said. "We have lived up to the promise of rebuilding."
Scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, the event will kick off with short speeches from mosque members followed by a presentation of tokens of appreciation. Mosque members have requested the city close East Airline Road at North Navarro and North Main streets at 4 p.m. for pedestrian safety. Those in attendance are asked to park at the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro St.
Guided tours of the building will follow.
That open house comes one year, eight months and one day after Victoria resident Marq Vincent Perez, 26, set fire to the place of worship. Perez, who was found guilty of federal hate crime and arson charges in July, is to be sentenced Oct. 2.
Construction of the new mosque began soon after a May 2017 groundbreaking and was completed in late August. Victoria architect Rawley McCoy created the design with the Cuero firm Weaver and Jacobs managing construction of the $1.8 million project.
The result, Rachid said, has truly lived up to his expectations.
"I’m outstandingly pleased with the work that has been done," Rachid said. "We could not have asked for a better facility or a better worship center. It is really just beautiful."