Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Vicksburg will soon become a historic landmark.
Josephine Calloway said that the church, which later also became a school, was started in 1906 by Father Aloysius Heick, who was a German priest. He was a member of Fathers of the Divine Word which started in Holland. He originally came to the United States and settled in Techny, Illinois around two hours north of Chicago.
From there, priests were sent to different parts of the U.S., one of those places being Mississippi. Father Heick started out in Marigold, Mississippi but his vision was not recieved. His mission was to head a school for Blacks. Father Aloysius was not welcomed there and so he ended up in Vicksburg.
He then started a church, where he utilized three small houses. One was for the church, one for a school, and one was reserved for the nuns. From there, success and support became a reality for his mission, which was radical at the time. The church is now celebrating 116 years of being in existence. It was the first parish of its type in Mississippi.
Saint Mary’s will be commemorated as a historic landmark on October 16. It will be celebrated with a 9 o’clock service. Following the service there will be a program where the markers will be placed in front of the church, then there will be a reception for the parishioners and supporters.
Calloway closed by mentioning, “What’s unique about this is that when Father Aloysius started Saint Mary’s, he was not welcome in Marigold because of his dedication to the education of Blacks. When he reached Vicksburg, because Vicksburg is composed of so many ethnic groups, he got support from the community. The nuns and priests had limited funds but then people in the community gave them food and whatever they needed to survive.”
It was this desire for equality, diversity and inclusion that made Saint Mary’s so special over a century ago and it is what continues to make it so important to Vicksburg’s melting pot of history today.See a typo? Report it here.