The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1911-1984: A History

By Michael V. Namorato | Go to book overview

2
Richard O. Gerow: The Natchez Years, 1924-1948

Today I give myself to God as an instrument in His hands. I give myself to you to do God's will. Henceforth, I devote myself entirely to you and your spiritual welfare. Through God I give to you my life, my health, all that I am and all that I possess.

Yesterday I was a stranger to you--today I become part and parcel of the people of Mississippi, a native Southerner, born and raised in the neighboring state of Alabama. I feel that I am by nature fitted to understand you and be in sympathy with you. I am familiar in a general way with the customs and feelings of the people of Mississippi, but I must not confide in any human circumstances or agencies in the rendering of my work among you a success. In the Grace of God I must confide. 1

In this statement made at his official installation in Natchez, Richard Oliver Gerow confided three very special characteristics about himself. One was that he was a totally committed individual who would give his all to what he was doing--in this case, leading the diocese of Natchez. Second, he openly proclaimed his southern heritage and what it meant to him, especially as he assumed his see. Finally and most important, Gerow expressed the most distinctive trait of his very life--his love of God and his total trust in Him. It was a revealing address he made on the day he first met his new congregation.


LIFE BEFORE NATCHEZ

Born on May 3, 1885, in Mobile, Alabama, Richard O. Gerow was the only son of Warren Rosecrans Gerow and Anne Skehan Gerow. The Gerow family had ancestral roots going back to Daniel Giraud, who had migrated to America around 1700, settling in New Rochelle, New York. 2 Sometime around 1750 and for unknown reasons, the spelling of the family name changed to the form used by the bishop and his family. Gerow's grandfather, Warren D. Gerow, was born in Dutchess County, New York, in 1822 and later migrated to Mobile, Alabama. There, he married and settled. Bishop Gerow's father, in fact, was born in Mobile

-51-

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The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1911-1984: A History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xix
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 18
  • Part I - The Hierarchy 21
  • Notes 25
  • 1 - John E. Gunn, 1911-1924 29
  • 2 - Richard O. Gerow: The Natchez Years, 1924-1948 51
  • Notes 68
  • 3 - Richard O. Gerow: The Jackson Years, 1948-1966 75
  • Notes 93
  • 4 - Joseph Bernard Brunini: A Native Son 101
  • 5: Joseph Bernard Brunini 131
  • Part II - Clergy, Religious, and Laity 153
  • 6 - Clergy and Religious, 1911-1984 157
  • 7: Laity 183
  • 8: Outreach (Evangelization) 211
  • 9: Mississippi and Southern Catholicism 243
  • Epilogue 253
  • Notes 258
  • Appendix 1 Native Priests 259
  • Appendix 2 Priests in the Diocese, 1911-1984 261
  • Appendix 3 Irish Priests 285
  • Appendix 4 Religious Orders 289
  • Appendix 5 PARISHES, 1911-1984 293
  • Appendix 6 Schools 297
  • Selected Bibliography 301
  • Index 307
  • About the Author 315
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