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A new beginning: Holy Family hosting rededication

Michael Turner sands the ceiling before painting it while his nephew Terrace Bindon looks on at Holy Family Catholic Church. Renovations in the church will be complete for a rededication ceremony at 3 p.m. on Sunday with a mass and reception to follow. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Michael Turner sands the ceiling before painting it while his nephew Terrace Bindon looks on at Holy Family Catholic Church. Renovations in the church will be complete for a rededication ceremony at 3 p.m. on Sunday with a mass and reception to follow. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

By Olivia McClure

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — After six years of repairs, Holy Family Catholic Church will rededicate its renovated building in a special service at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Rev. James Fallon said the church, which was erected in 1894, has been completely renovated, although it wasn’t initially planned that way. Work began in 2008 with emergency repairs when moisture seeped through brick mortar and destroyed plaster on the inside. The repair process, called repointing of bricks, was exhaustive work and wiped out the church’s savings, Fallon said.

Ellis Felter of Hardwood Floor Specialist stains the floor of the alter at Holy Family Catholic Church. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Ellis Felter of Hardwood Floor Specialist stains the floor of the altar at Holy Family Catholic Church. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

However, two miracles came along that enabled the church to embark on even more repairs, Fallon said. The Historic Natchez Foundation obtained a grant of $169,000 from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History so the church could make exterior repairs, particularly to the roof, steeple and drainage.

The foundation chose to work with Holy Family because of its role in the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century, Fallon said. The church’s former pastor, Rev. William Morrissey, was the vice president of the Mississippi NAACP. To maintain the church’s historic integrity, it was restored based on old photographs.

Parishioners later raised an additional $65,000 and the state provided a second grant of $42,000. Those funds opened the possibility of renovating the interior of the building, Fallon said.

“This was unenvisionable just four or five years ago,” Fallon said. “This is the most extensive renovation of the church since it was erected.”

Unlike some churches which have “monumental” appearances, Holy Family has a “sweet intimacy” about it, Fallon said. He hopes the physical beauty of the church will remind parishioners that they are part of something larger, and make them proud of their faith.

“We find ourselves in the awesomeness of God, but the building can be a reminder of that,” Fallon said.

Fallon sees the renovated church building as an investment in the future. On Sunday at the rededication mass, Fallon and other clergy members will not only rededicate the church, but also rededicate themselves to their faith, he said.