Pass Christian Church Remember Life Before Camille - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/17/05

Pass Christian Church Remember Life Before Camille

To this day, Hurricane Camille remains the most extreme weather event in history to take place in North America. Now one of the churches hardest hit by Camille is helping to preserve that past. About a year ago a house was donated to St. Paul's Catholic church in Pass Christian.

Parishioners then decorated the Damascus House with reminders of Camille's destruction from the old church which was torn down after receiving heavy damage.

For nearly 40 years their beauty sat hidden in Lolleta Wittman's garage. She says her husband got the stain glass windows after their church took a beating from Hurricane Camille.

"The church was very badly damaged during Camille, the old St. Paul's, they decided to tear it down and build a new church because it really wasn't large enough anyhow."

This is the foot of one of the Roman soldiers. Now the windows and other treasures from the old St. Paul's church are showcased in the Damascus house. One of Father Dennis Carver's personal favorites is a the 100-year-old confessional door.

"To me this is the door to mercy and forgiveness," said Father Carver. "It's a wonderful sign. This is a symbol of the keys and also the keys to the kingdom of heaven."

From the cross from the old church steeple to broken fragments of the stations of the cross, parishioners have worked hard to collect pieces of church history.

"We felt that to have the old with the new for the community that did not experience Camille nor see the old church would be an experience for them to cherish for generations to come," said Patsy Bonner.

Danielle Michell, another parishioner, agreed. "There are a lot of people here in our parish who tell wonderful stories about when they were children and about walking to school and walking to church so it connects us all together."

Wittman was christened and married in old St. Paul's Catholic church. She's happy that now more people can share in her wonderful memories.

"It's in place now and that's fine," she said. "That's wonderful, that's the way it should be."

The St. Paul's Catholic church that was torn down after Camille was built in 1874. It replaced another church that burned down.

by Danielle Thomas

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