Faith and Family: Cranfield Catholic church turns 100

Published 2:01 am Saturday, October 29, 2016

By Morgan Mizell

CRANFIELD — The congregation of St. John the Baptist Church in Cranfield will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Nov. 6 during its 1 p.m. Mass with a reception to follow in the Fellowship Hall of Cranfield Baptist Church.

The church was the fourth mission church of Holy Family Catholic Church and was founded by Josephite Priest, the Rev. Matthew Morrissey, S.S.J, in 1916 for black Catholics. The church was dedicated on Sept. 3, 1916.

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The Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart or Josephites  is a society of priests and brothers founded solely to serve the needs of the black community. The group was founded after the Civil War and is still in operation today with its Mother House in Baltimore, Md.  St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, built by the Rev. Matthew Morrissey, S.S.J., was the last of four mission churches to be built by the Josephites. The other three were Harriston, Laurel Hill and St. Joseph’s Church in Springfield.

Duncan Morgan, a Holy Family parishioner, says he remembers much of the history of the small church and the importance it had when it was built.

“When you think about the time this church was built, you can understand it was necessary for these small churches, because people were not always able to get into town,” Morgan said. “These were the days when the roads were not paved and a rain storm could keep people from being able to make it into town to worship or the priest from getting out to them.”

Morgan said he remembers attending Mass at the Cranfield church, but it has been many years.

“I am a Holy Family member,” Morgan said. “I have attended the little church a time or two for Mass, but it has probably been 30 or 40 years since I have.”

Morgan said the church has always been one of convenience for those who have attended.

“In the old days, it was easy for those who lived there to get to church because they were so isolated from town and this church was close to them,” Morgan said. “Today, a lot of people who attend like the time of the afternoon Mass and the small size of the congregation.”

The congregation is small but there are times when it gets a little larger, such as during hunting season when Catholics from south Louisiana who have hunting lands near the church attend Mass.

Special guests will be on hand for the anniversary celebration, including the Rev. Joseph R. Kopacz, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson who will be the celebrant. The co-celebrants will be the Rev. George Ajuruchi, S.S.J., pastor, the Rev. James P. Fallon, S.S.J., who was a former pastor of the church, the Rev. Richard Wagner, S.S.J., former pastor, the Rev. Joseph Doyle, S.S.J., former parochial vicar and the Rev. Joseph Rodney, S.S.J., special friend to Holy Family and Cranfield as well as a classmate of Fallon and Doyle.

Other special guests will be the oldest members of the congregation which include Geraldine Fleming Floyd, Margaret Fleming Walls and Joseph Marvel.

The event is open to the public.