Holy Savior celebrates golden jubliee

By Ruth Cummins
CLINTON – Holy Savior Parish today has more than 300 member families, but its charter parishioners remember how the fledgling church began with 45 dedicated members when it was established in 1966.
The church that serves the Clinton and Raymond communities will observe its 50th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 25, during an 11 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Father Thomas McGing, Holy Savior’s pastor.
The day’s only Mass will be followed by dinner on the grounds and a dessert reception. It’s a time for current, past and founding members to gather for fellowship and fun, and also to give tribute to the church’s history and members’ contributions to the community, said Allen Scott, who’s heading up plans for the celebration.
“We especially invite our charter members, wherever they now reside, to attend Mass and be honored for their contributions,” Scott said. “They are the foundation of our parish and paved the way for our current presence in the city.”
Holy Savior Parish, one of almost 100 in the Diocese of Jackson, has steadily grown its membership in Clinton and in Raymond, home to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, said McGing, who has served as pastor since 2003.
“Holy Savior’s first home in Clinton was a triple-wide trailer on the existing church grounds, and the first Mass was celebrated at Mississippi College,” Father McGing said. “We’ve come a long way since then. Our parish family continues to expand, and we’ve worked hard to bring together Catholics and non-Catholics in the community. We welcome all to worship with us and learn more about the Catholic faith.
“Our parish has families from more than 10 nations. This makes us truly catholic.”
In the early 1900s, the few Catholics living in Clinton had to travel to Jackson to attend Mass. By the early 1960s, the city of Clinton had grown considerably, and so had its Catholic population.
It was time for the establishment of a parish for the city. Clinton Catholics petitioned the diocese for a parish, established on Aug. 12, 1966, with Father George Uricheck as founding pastor. The first Mass was held in the Mississippi College student union, and the mission church of Immaculate Conception in Raymond initially hosted Holy Savior’s parishioners.
In September 1967, Holy Savior took a major step with the purchase of property at the corner of Old Vicksburg Road and Lindale Street. Adjoining land was purchased in 1968 to accommodate the growing parish. The reassignment of Father Uricheck, however, left Holy Savior without a permanent pastor. Visiting priests celebrated Mass until the appointment of Father Marion Spadini as pastor in the late 1960s.
Under Spadini’s guidance, members planned a new church building. It was dedicated in November 1976 by Bishop Joseph Brunini, and Mass, religious education and social activities could all be held in the same building. It’s now used for meetings and a variety of social events.
In 1980, Father Martin Ruane was appointed the parish’s third pastor. He led remodeling of the rectory and acquisition of the house adjacent to the rectory for religious education classes. A second religious education facility was built to accommodate the growing number of children in the parish. Ruane’s gifts included building the church’s membership through RCIA and shepherding the return of a number of Catholics who had drifted from their faith.
By 1984, parish leaders began the process of building a church solely for worship. Bishop William Houck dedicated the new church designed to seat 750 in 1987. Father Noel Prendergast was appointed Holy Savior’s fourth pastor in 1991 and proposed construction of a new building to house religious education and parish offices. It was a necessary move to consolidate classrooms scattered among three different buildings and the parish office operating out of the rectory.
Bishop Houck dedicated the new building in late 2002, and McGing was appointed pastor in January 2003.  He oversaw major structural repairs to the church in 2004 after termites destroyed portions of the two beams that supported the church roof.  Several months later, Bishop Joseph Latino celebrated Mass and rededicated the church.
Over the years, members have served in church-affiliated organizations including the Altar Society, Catholic Youth Organization, the Golden Oldies senior citizens social group, the Knights of Columbus Council No. 7854 and its associated Ladies Auxiliary, a group for young mothers, and Boy Scouts troops. Religious education classes are held for preschoolers through high school seniors.
As the church celebrates 50 years in Clinton, Father McGing said, its future is bright, and its mission of outreach and service to community is stronger than ever.
“We hope the next 50 years will bring a renewal of faith and continued dedication to our Lord and living our Catholic faith,” Father McGing said.
(Ruth Cummins and her husband Kelly are longtime members of Holy Savior Catholic Church in Clinton, where she serves as an Eucharistic minister and he as a lector. Their two grown daughters, Leigh and Meg, live in Nashville.)