Pascagoula church members celebrate new home

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX)- After three years of wandering, St. Peter's Parish in Pascagoula finally has a place to call home.

"It's wonderful. As the choir sang, 'to God be the glory,' the people are so happy to be back home," said Sister Bernadette McNamara.

The parish lost all three of its buildings in Katrina.  Sunday afternoon, the congregation joined for their first mass at home since the storm.  They held it in their new Parish Life Center.  The center will serve as a sanctuary until they can build a new one.

"It's a blessing for us because we can come home now," said Rev. Charles McMahon, the Pastor at St. Peter's.  The congregation has held mass in many different places since the storm, including in a tent on their lawn.  Most recently, they met at Sacred Hearth Catholic Church in Pascagoula.  Consequently, attendance at mass has spread thin.  Sunday, however, the new building was overflowing with members.

Sister Bernadette McNamara was the principal at St. Peter the Apostle School before Katrina left it in shambles, taking a piece of Pascagoula history with it.

"It's was heartbreaking," she said.  "Because our sisters, sisters of the Holy Spirit have been at St. Peter the Apostle school since 1915. And this was like home to us."

The school will never be rebuilt, but the church's return is a true symbol of recovery for her.  She travelled all the way from her new home in Natchez to see the new building.

"It's wonderful for me after three years to see so many of those people and to be happy with them and to celebrate with them," she said.

McNamara, like the rest of the congregation, is happy the church can finally be reunited.

"It's coming home," she said.  "It's coming home."

The new center cost two and a half million dollars to build, and can withstand up to one hundred and forty mile per hour winds.  The parish plans on using it as a hurrican shelter in the future.