Assumption Church celebrates 100 yearsPublished 12:02am Wednesday, October 23, 2013
“Far atop a distant hill, where heaven kisses earth, stands a small white chapel …” — excerpt from the book “Echoes in the Glen: St. Malachi of Doe Run” by Kathleen Hood.
Early in 1905, a small group of struggling immigrant Italian families boarded a ship bound for America.
After over a month of traveling, they arrived at Louisiana cotton plantations and found themselves living in deplorable conditions struggling to survive.
Some months later during the night, a few of these families fled the plantations, and with help from local Natchez businessmen, settled along Old Washington Road near the St. Catherine Creek.
Over the next few years more Italian families arrived and the community continued to grow. These immigrants of great faith celebrated Mass in their homes until Fr. Patrick Hayden and parishioners of St. Mary’s Parish helped them build a small church for this growing community of farmers.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church was constructed on land acquired by Hayden from Mr. R. Lee Parker, an early benefactor of the Italian families. The small white wooden church on the hill at the beginning of Morgantown Road was dedicated April 20, 1913.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church has thrived over the years, and many descendants of these early Italian families, as well as other early local families who were active participants in the church are members of this parish today.
A special Mass service will be held at noon Sunday and following this service, a celebration will be held on the grounds of the church.
There will be displays of parish history including old documents, photographs of the early families and church events. Of course, there will be music, activities for kids, plenty of food and beverages.
During the celebration, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History will have a special presentation of unveiling a historical marker on the grounds of the church recognizing the St. Catherine Creek Italian Colony and the dedication of the church 100 years ago.
The small white wooden church on the hill at the beginning of Morgantown Road has been replaced with the brick church you see today. However, the legacy of that small group of Italians of faith, family and friendship remains the foundation of this parish.
The Rev. David O’Connor, pastor of the Assumption Catholic Church, the parish community and previous pastors of the Assumption Parish, who will be in attendance, invite all of you, with a special invitation to all descendants of the early parishioners, to come and join with us to celebrate 100 years of the Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church this Sunday.
Charles Mascagni is a descendant of the St. Catherine Creek Italian Colony.