Franciscans Witness Jackson Diocese’s 175th Anniversary Celebration

Paul Keggington

September 21, 2012

In 2012 Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity not only thank God for calling a young woman to join us as a Postulant from the Diocese of Jackson, MS, but we also were proud to be a part of a recent diocesan 175th founding anniversary celebration. Franciscan Sister Annette Kurey serving in Greenwood, MS provides an eye witness account of this happy event.

Today and Yesterday in the Diocese of Jackson

Four of us went to the Jackson Diocesan celebration of 175 yrs.

In 1837 Pope Gregory XVI realizing that the state of Mississippi was almost destitute of spiritual attention established a new Diocese to embrace the entire State. The Cathedral City was Natchez, on the MS River. Reverend Thomas Heyden was first named to be the Bishop of Natchez. Due to the entirely unorganized diocese in a far distant part of the country, he petitioned the Holy See to excuse him. His petition was granted. Communications with Rome in those days was slow and uncertain, and nearly 4 years elapsed before Father John Joseph Chanche of Baltimore was appointed. The whole state of MS over which the Bishop exercised jurisdiction was more then 46 thousand square miles. At that time the state had no church and only 2 priests.

Since then the Cathedral City has been moved to Jackson (Natchez has been able to have their Cathedral established as a Basilica!) and a second diocese established in Biloxi, MS. The church in MS has grown, but most of our churches and parishes, at least in Northern and Central MS. are much smaller and farther apart then we are accustom to in the North. Though the Catholic population is small, it is healthy and the celebration brought people from far and wide.

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