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

By Michael V. Namorato | Go to book overview

were considered, and costs were assessed. Unfortunately, by November 1942, Gerow decided that the time was not right to move. He could not find a suitable residence, building restrictions and costs were prohibitive, and the war itself argued against the move.

By 1945-1946, Gerow revived the idea and acted accordingly. He decided to build a new chancery and pay for it by placing a tax on all parishes in the diocese. He also decided to use St. Peter's in Jackson as his co-cathedral. The hardest part of all, though, was to tell the people in Natchez. This he did in October 1946 in a letter addressed to the congregation. It was a sad affair but one that Gerow knew had to occur. On July 22, 1948, Bishop Gerow made his official move to Jackson, Mississippi. The Natchez years of his episcopacy were over. 82


CONCLUSION

By the time he left for Jackson, Bishop Gerow was, indeed, "part and parcel of the people of Mississippi." He and the diocese had come a long way since his arrival in 1924. By 1948, there were 135 priests in the diocese, 60 parishes, 61 missions, over 400 religious brothers and sisters, 7,500 students in diocesan schools, 95 children in the diocesan orphanages, 3 general Catholic hospitals, 12,195 children receiving religious instruction, and a Catholic population of 44,264. If anything, these statistics reveal just how much Bishop Gerow had made Mississippi his home by the time he left Natchez for Jackson. 83

In retrospect, it is clear that Bishop Gerow, in his Natchez years, was trying to achieve stability for the diocese as a whole. He sought to get the diocese in order regarding its finances as illustrated by the cathedral renovation and the payment of parish debts. He also sought to provide a stable and healthy environment for the clergy and religious working in Natchez-Jackson. Stability, however, did not exclude growth. Not only was he concerned with Catholicism's increasing in numbers in Mississippi, but he also sought to expand Catholic education through the parochial schools and CCD programs. In other ways as well, Gerow promoted Natchez--Jackson. His support and encouragement of the laity in all areas, but especially with the Knights of Columbus and the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, illustrated this. He worked actively to help African Americans by supporting and fostering native black vocations and by supporting St. Augustine's. Gerow, moreover, sought to help the diocese by staying clear of politics except when the church's interests were involved. Finally, his decision to move to Jackson showed foresight on his part, given the changing political, economic, and social environment of the state. Nevertheless, the Natchez era was only part of Gerow's long tenure as bishop. Much more was to follow once he established his new Chancery and headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi.


NOTES
1.
Richard O. Gerow papers, November 12, 1924, "Sermons," ADJ.
2.
Gerow, "Notes on His Life-by Himself," Gerow papers, File 11, Folder: Gerow, ADJ.
3.
Ibid.
4.
Ibid.

-68-

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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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