By Dorothy Ashley
JACKSON – Holy Ghost the Comforter Catholic Church will celebrate their feast day on June 5, Pentecost Sunday, along with their 113th anniversary of mission and presence in Midtown Jackson.
Holy Ghost was founded in 1909 by Father Aloysius Heick, SVD, a German priest who traveled to America as a missionary. With the financial help of St. Mother Katherine Drexel, the foundress of the Blessed Sacrament Sisters of Philadelphia, Father Heick was given $16,000 to buy two acres of pastureland in Midtown Jackson.
The mission school broke ground on June 25, 1909, and the following September, three Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters came from Techny, Illinois to serve at the two-story brick mission school dedicated in October 1909.
Holy Ghost Mission School opened the following day with an enrollment of 111. It began as a grammar school. A high school program was added and in 1918, it became the first high school for African American students in Jackson.
Holy Ghost Catholic School was instrumental in graduating many African American students with a first-rate education. A convent was built and dedicated in 1911. Two years later, old St. Peter’s Church (now Cathedral) downtown was dismantled, and the material was used to build Holy Ghost Catholic Church on what today is Cloister Street.
Since then, a new parish church was built in 1970. The original parish church was dismantled and the Father George Artis Family Life Center was erected many years later where the original church stood.
Father Heick worked 21 years at Holy Ghost. He retired in 1929 and died the following September.
In 1969, the high school merged with St. Joseph Catholic High School. The elementary school has since closed, but the building is being leased to Hinds County Project Headstart.
Holy Ghost Catholic Church continues its mission of evangelization in the heart of Midtown Jackson. All are invited to attend the Pentecost Mass at the parish on June 5 at 9 a.m.