Renovations ‘prepare the way of the Lord in the Delta’

By Berta Mexidor
GREENVILLE – Bishop Joseph Kopacz presided over a momentous Mass for the parish of St. Joseph in Greenville on Sunday, Dec. 10, marking the end of a seven-month renovation period. The historic church, steeped in significance, opened its doors to eager parishioners who had patiently awaited this joyous occasion.

Prior to the blessing Mass, a multitude of parishioners gathered in anticipation, radiating joy as they reveled in the transformed ambiance of the sacred place. The church, which had been closed for months, now showcases a renewed vitality that captivated the attention of all who entered.

GREENVILLE – Parishioners of St. Joseph parish gathered for a special Mass on Sunday, Dec. 10 with Bishop Joseph Kopacz for the blessing of the parish after months of extensive renovations. (Photo by Berta Mexidor)

Parishioners and visitors alike marveled at the renovations, noting the enhanced brightness and vibrant colors that adored the church. One notable renovation was the Stations of the Cross. Conversations around the parish buzzed with admiration, as parishioners reminisced about the church’s previous state and expressed gratitude for the remarkable conclusion of the renovation.

As Bishop Kopacz delivered his blessing, spanning not only the people but every corner of the building, including the Stations of the Cross, culminating in the blessing of the altar.

During his homily, Bishop Kopacz drew parallels between the Gospel centered on the Holy Spirit, water symbolism and the themes of preparation and repentance. Quoting Isaiah, he urged the congregation to “prepare the way of the Lord in the Delta,” drawing a connection between the spiritual journey and the geographical context.

Commending the parishioners who contributed to the renovation, Bishop Kopacz emphasized the significance of their collective effort – including that of Salvador Sarullo, who bequeathed a large portion of his estate to the parish.

GREENVILLE – On left, the original hand-carved altar remains as a part of the renovations at St. Joseph parish. On right, Bishop Joseph Kopacz prepares to bless the walls of the parish on Sunday, Dec. 10 after a seven month renovation period for the parish. (Photos by Berta Mexidor)

“Today is very special … the hand of the Lord has blessed us, the generosity of Salvador Sarullo, and all of those … who made this possible,” said Bishop Kopacz.

Mary Lynn Powers, the parish historian, shared a brief history of St. Joseph parish with the parishioners gathered for the renovation blessing. The church, a dream of Canon Paul Korstenbrock, an architect-turned priest, was erected in 1908, designed in true Dutch Gothic style. The renovation retained antique features, including hand-carved altars, original windows depicting the lives of saints, and the more modern Stations of the Cross from 2008.

Powers noted the fortuitous contributions of the estates of Joe and Katherine Reilly, in addition to that of Sarullo, which she said truly helped save the church from deterioration.

As the Mass concluded, Father Jose de Jesus Sanchez, pastor of St. Joseph, expressed gratitude to Bishop Kopacz and the supportive community. Attendees were then invited to the community center, where the atmosphere buzzed with joy. Reflecting on the church’s 115-year journey, the community embraced the timeless legacy shaped by the Holy Spirit, Father Korstenbrock’s vision, parishioners’ generosity, contractors’ hard work, and the prayers of past, present and future generations in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.