BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A Biloxi landmark turns 50 this weekend. It has weathered many storms, including two major hurricanes, and its members are proud to see it still standing tall.
The St. Michael Catholic Church celebrated its building's golden anniversary during mass Sunday morning.
Decades have passed, and several generations have filled its pews, helping make the St. Michael Catholic Church a symbol of hope for the people of Biloxi.
"Oh, I think it's amazing," said Katie Held.
She grew up attending the round church by the sea and knows what it means to members and non-members alike.
"It's very important to us. Part of our culture in Biloxi," said Held.
It claims to be a church of fishermen, which is true in more ways than one. The Rev. Gregory Barras said St. Michael was built by fishermen who essentially lived in poverty.
"But faith wise, very, very rich. Out of their nickels and dimes, they saved up enough. It was a half million in the 60s to build this church," said Barras.
50 years later, the church has weathered two major hurricanes and has been built back stronger each time.
Aside from its historical significance, the building itself is an architectural work of art.
One of its most striking features is its 360 degree array of stained glass. 36 panels surround the church, telling the story of the 12 apostles pulling in their nets full of fish.
"Which is so symbolic of our faith. We are all fishers of people drawing them to God," said Barras.
Kenneth Powell was a young boy when the building was first being built, and has been in the church family ever since. He says Barras is the reason that the church has been rebuilt after each devastating storm.
"He said, 'We're going back,'" said Powell.
He sees the building as proof of the strength of Biloxi.
"Resilience, just resilience that folks will not let these things stand in the way," said Powell.
Now, the church looks forward, breaking ground on new additions that leaders hope will continue to provide a beacon of light for Biloxi and the Coast.
"That light is what, for the next 50 years, we hope to continue to bring to anyone who comes," said Barras.
Bishop Roger Morin, of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, presented the 50th anniversary mass. Shortly after the service, church officials broke ground on the church's $2 million family life center.