BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's been a fixture in South Mississippi for nearly two centuries. Dozens gathered Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary's founding.
“We are so happy to be able to celebrate 175 years of the Catholic faith in this area,” said Bishop Louis Kihneman. “To be here that long: through all the hurricanes, through all the different moments the city has seen and to bring us to this moment now is a wonderful celebration of God’s love in our midst.”
Kihneman is proud to be a part of this long standing parish.
“It really lifts my heart, and my soul and my spirit when I see the people,” Kihneman said. “They gather together with such joy and care, wanting to worship together and pray together.”
Some joined the church in the middle of their lives.
"My wife and I got married in this church in December of 1971," said 175th anniversary chairman Dennis Burke.
Others, have grown up at Nativity.
"I guess since the day I was baptized, 1941," said Sister Jackie Tarrant. "It's a long time."
“Nativity has been my church from the time I was born. I was baptized at Nativity,” said Liz Joachim. “Went through confession, communion, confirmation, got married there, and I hope some day to be buried there.”
For Dennis Burke, this celebration is personal.
“For me, it just shows you the influence that the nativity parish, Catholic church has on the coast and within Biloxi because they were the original parish and started the other churches along the coast as mission churches,” said Burke.
Kihneman says it’s just a special thing for the church to be a staple in the community for so long, and he hopes it lasts for another 175 years.