by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher – editor@thegazebogazette.com

In being one of the oldest Catholic Churches on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in the state, Our Mother of Mercy in Pass Christian received a historical marker on April 24, 2022 from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.  The church building was established in 1911 after twenty years of missionary work, church and a school facility.

Long known as St. Philomena, the church began under Josephite priests and the foundation was built under the direction of Father Samuel Kelly.  The local African American community of Pass Christian helped construct and become the mission of the church.

Following the Golden Jubilee celebrated by St. Philomena in June 1961, officials of the Vatican changed the name of the church to Our Mother of Mercy after the Sisters of Mercy had established a school.

Although the catholic school lasted for 46 years and was closed in 1967.  The Head Start Program was named a national model and came in the building from 1967 until 2005, thereby initiating the ground work for it to become a permanent program for the Pass Christian School District.

Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church was founded on a mission for Pass Christian’s African American community, but with the destruction, scheduled demolition and reconstruction of a new St. Paul’s Chapel on Beach Boulevard, many of the white congregation have attended Mass and other services at Our Mother of Mercy Parish.

“Father Rofino Jas did a wonderful job of getting parishioners prepared for the unveiling of the historical marker to the church as a historic site in Mississippi,” said Pass Christian Mayor Jimmy Rafferty.  “The Knights of Peter Claver and the Ladies Auxiliary were in full force for the event.  It was a very successful event for exceptional people who do a lot for this community.”

Ward 2 Alderwoman and Church member; Regina Charlot, stated “I thank the city of Pass Christian for recognizing Our Mother of Mercy on its 111th anniversary and I pray that God will continue to bless and spare our church for many years to come.”

Father Bartholomew Endslow was appointed Pastor in 1998, as he celebrated his 50 years while serving the Parishioners with great faith and counsel.  Through his guidance, funds were raised to provide major church internal renovations that took place during the celebration of the 90th Anniversary of Our Mother of Mercy Church in 2001.

Father Bartholomew was the longest serving priest of the church and served for 18 years, before and after Hurricane Katrina.

Our Mother of Mercy has withstood many disastrous events during this time frame.