By Mike Talbert
PONTOTOC – Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, was an appropriate day for the standing-room crowd of 250-plus at Pontotoc St. Christopher Parish to dedicate the new multipurpose parish hall.
The dedication activities were centered around a bilingual Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz. He noted that this Sunday was part of the celebration and preparation for Christmas, a time for thanksgiving.
“The Mass is always a prayer of thanksgiving,” the bishop said. “We give thanks a little more so because of the dedication of this building.”
The building was named Glenmary Hall in honor of the Glenmary Home Missioners, who helped found and build St. Christopher during a 50-year period from 1965 to 2015. The church grew from a storefront mission to one of the larger Christian congregations in Pontotoc County. Liz Dudas of the Glenmary Home Office in Nashville represented Glenmary for the dedication. Dudas has long been active in North Mississippi mission activities.
Joining as concelebrants of the Glenmary Hall dedication mass were Glenmary priests, Father Gerry Peterson (known in the community as Father Pete), whose Hispanic ministry operated for 13 years out of Pontotoc, retired Glenmary President, Father Robert Dalton of Houston, and Father Tim Murphy, the current pastor..
In honoring the effort so many that went into the new structure, that replaced an aging doublewide trailer, Bishop Kopacz, in his dedication, asked a “blessing for all the labor that went into the building and the building itself.”
In recognition of those efforts, Danna Johnson, Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry at St. Christopher, revealed plaques, one in English and one in Spanish, that will be a permanent part of Glenmary Hall entryway. The plaques demonstrate that the building of Glenmary Hall was a community effort involving many contributions of money and personal effort.
Among those honored on the plaque were those whose donations helped make the construction possible, including Elmon and Bonnie Thomas, and the Hodges family Zeke, Karen and Billy, who made their donation in memory of their late nephew Robert E. Woolard III.
“Their financial generosity was a great blessing,” Johnson said.
Also honored were those who provided at lot of the hands-on work on the new hall, including much of the carpentry, roofing, painting and finishing work.
“They were our Saint Josephs, our expert carpenters,” Johnson said. “Their work is a testimony to God’s presence among us.”
Those “St. Joseph” workers include Martin Jara, the Marcelino Ramos family, Luis Gordillo, the Oscar Zuniga family and the Miguel Torres family.
Also among those honored were the George Adrian memorial that allowed the completion of landscaping work, and David and Teri Strange, who donated sound equipment. David, with his brother Danny installed the sound system for the new building, which will not only be a parish hall but will service for Sunday Hispanic mass. Segio Vega and Mi Pueblo Restaurant donated kitchen equipment.
Inclosing the presentation, Johnson said, “We also want to thank Father Tim Murphy, our pastor, whose dedication and support made this possible.”
(Mike Talbert is a retired newspaperman who grew up attending Mass at the original storefront church in Pontotoc!).