Vicksburg Parish kicks off anniversary year

By Alana Norris
The Vicksburg Post
VICKSBURG – This year marks a milestone anniversary for a local church, rooted deep in the history of Vicksburg.
St. Paul Parish is celebrating 175 years in Vicksburg throughout 2016.
A Show-Snack-’n’-Share Party was the first event the church sponsored from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 10, on the third floor of Farrell Hall located on Crawford Street.
This party was for parishioners and anyone with connections to the church to share photographs, mementos, and memories of times they spent at the church.
“I’m hoping that these folks will bring their memories and at the same time bring photographs they might have and help identify some of the people,” Glenda LaGarde, chair of the 175th anniversary committee, said in an interview for The Vicksburg Post published prior to the event.
She said there are plenty of pictures and newspaper clippings provided by the church, Vicksburg Catholic Schools and the Old Court House Museum. Guests could look through those and help identify the individuals in the picture to keep a historical record of the people and events that have happened in the church over the years.
The pictures go all the way back to the beginning in 1841. She said there are many photographs in the archives where she isn’t sure what war the men seem to be leaving for or what occasion those pictured are dressed up to attend.
“The date of the anniversary is Oct. 14, but we’re trying to get started early so we can gather from the people themselves what their stories are and what mementos they might have so that will help us in figuring out how we’re going to plan the grand finale,” LaGarde said.
Another part of the celebration is a Parish Tree of Life posted on a wall at the church where parishioners can write a memory, wedding date, First Communion date, or a name in memory of a former member on a paper leaf and paste it to the tree.
“I’m hoping that we get everybody, at least every family, but I’m hoping that we get most everybody to have a leaf on that tree with some little bit of their experience,” LaGarde said.
She said the church began as a chapel in a two-story building on the east side of Walnut Street between South and Crawford streets in 1841. Around 1849, she said, Bishop Joseph Chanche, the first bishop of the diocese, donated $500 and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith made an additional donation so the priest and parishioners could purchase the land and built a gothic revival style church where it is located today at 713 Crawford St.
That building was heavily damaged by the 1953 tornado, and the current church building was built following the disaster. It was completed in 1956.
“A lot of the older parishioners around here in town can probably still see in their gardens remnants from that because when they had to take it apart the parish  let parishioners, if they wanted, to take something as a memento,” LaGarde said.
During the time before the new church was completed, services were held in the auditorium of what is now the Southern Cultural Heritage Center.
“You have to understand the past and the people that made it in order to guide what your choices are right now,” LaGarde said.
(This story ran prior to the event in The Vicksburg Post, it was edited and reprinted with permission.)