tremendously. The statistics on his administration were very telling--80,000 Catholics, 206 diocesan and religious-order priests, 159 churches, missions, and stations built, 35 parishes established, and scores of schools built for children. 69 Still, in the end, the most significant fact that those who remember him still talk about was his simplicity and humility.
In assessing Gerow's Jackson years, it is clear that he did much. Not only had the diocese grown in physical terms, but the chancery had become more centralized. Clergy and religious were better off materially than they had been before, and the laity was more active in its roles in the church. Yet, the racial issue was very much a part of these years as well. Gerow gradually came to challenge the views he had adhered to in spite of his fears of violence. His actions in joining the Interfaith Group, his statement on the Evers' murder, his participation in the meetings with Mayor Thompson and President Kennedy, and his 1964 and 1965 school integration announcements attest to this change. However, just as with Vatican II and the changes they entailed, what Gerow did demonstrates that the world he was used to was disappearing, and his adjustment to this new environment was taking its toll on him. Nevertheless, in retrospect, what does seem quite clear is that Bishop Gerow was setting the stage for his successor to act, and act he would. Bishop Joseph Brunini would take what Gerow started in integration and go far beyond that, taking the Mississippi church into areas of social justice no one had ever thought of before.
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Publication information: Book title: The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1911-1984:A History. Contributors: Michael V. Namorato - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 93.
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