From the missions: Diocese of Savannah

July 6, 2009

By Robert Dixon, vice president for marketing and communications

I recently visited mission churches in rural Georgia and Utah as part of a team working on a short film for Catholic Extension, a teaching video that will help us explain not only what we do but for whom.

The trip took us to two parishes in the Diocese of Savannah, which encompasses the southern end of Georgia. Our first stop was at Holy Family Catholic Church in a town called Metter, which sits along Interstate 16 between Atlanta and Savannah. Our cameras would be there to capture a Mass honoring the 50th anniversary of the Catholic presence in Metter, as well as the sacraments of confirmation and first communion.

Catholic Extension, through our donors, helped build the church—twice. The first chapel, roughly four decades old, is modest and small, with a kitchen in back. It’s now the parish hall.

The newer church is a big improvement, a handsome building on three well-groomed acres. It makes for a picturesque scene.

The congregants reflected the same pride. The people wore dresses to the nines, and the atmosphere was so celebratory. People were really just glad to be there.

Presiding over the Mass was Savannah Bishop Kevin Boland, who proved unflappable even when a teenage girl in her finest clothes interrupted his homily, walking down the center aisle and nodding in deference before taking her seat.

“Glad you could join us!” Bishop Boland said, with good humor.

The next day we repeated the process, this time to the onion fields around Sand Hill, a tiny crossroads town in what city dwellers might consider the middle of nowhere.

Here, too, in a humble set of modular buildings, the worship at Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission was joyous. Smiling children dressed from head to toe in white received the sacraments amid the icons and low-hanging lights, a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on prominent display.

Before and after the Mass our crew interviewed the bishop, priests and parishioners, and one theme ran through every conversation: everyone wanted to be certain that you, the donors of Catholic Extension, knew how much of a real, measurable impact you were having on their lives by making it possible for them to practice their faith to the fullest.

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