The Faith of a Few

By

Marguerite M. Stiemly


 

The determination of a few people to practice their chosen Catholic religion in an area that is overwhelmingly Protestant was essential to the development of a Catholic Church in Nelson County.  In order to accomplish this, there were a number of obstacles that they had to overcome - the size of their group just one.  There are a number of factors that contributed to the growth of the membership the church at a time when the practice of organized religion in the county was decreasing.  These include marriage and conversion, but most importantly migratory patterns of people moving into the county.  This group consists primarily of people from the urban areas of Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.  In addition, almost one third of the families in the parish are Hispanics who have come to the county to work in the local orchards and have been welcomed into St. Mary’s parish family.  Through perseverance, a more visible location and outreach by the members and priests, the original few families have grown into the thriving parish that is today located on Front Street in Lovingston, VA.

Anti-Catholic Colonial Attitude

Historically, Virginia was anti-Catholic from the time it was first settled by the English in 1607.  Its colonial charter established the Church of England as the religion for the entire colony in strong anti-Catholic language.  Furthermore, Catholics in some areas of the South were subject to terrorism by the Ku Klux Klan during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   During the mid-twentieth century, the remnants of these colonial and post Civil War attitudes still remained in Amherst and Nelson counties even though according to elderly respondents the Ku Klux Klan was not active there.  Nonetheless, the citizens were definitely not ready for a church open to all where black, white and Hispanic people could worship together.   Even in the 21st century, there are few churches in the area that are open to all.  

When one considers the colonial charters of Virginia, It is not surprising that it took just over two hundred years for the Catholic Church to arrive in Central Virginia and almost three hundred years to make its first appearance in Nelson County.  The First Charter of Virginia dated April 10, 1606 stated as its goal

….[the propagation] of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and
miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God, and may in time
bring the Infidels and Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility…. 1

By the time the Second Charter of Virginia dated May 23, 1609 was written, it included the following anti-Catholic language:

[Since] we should be loath that any Person should be permitted to pass that we
suspected to affect the Superstitions of the Church of Rome, we do hereby DECLARE…
none be permitted to pass…into the said Country, but such as first shall have taken the
Oath of Supremacy….[to the Church of England] 2     

With the Church of England as the established religion of the Colony of Virginia, life was very difficult for Catholics in Virginia.  Laws were even enacted to prohibit Catholics from owning a horse valued at more than five pounds sterling or even bearing arms.  The inability to bear arms would have been a particular hardship in a colony that was mostly wilderness.

Religious Freedom for Virginia

Eventually, the Constitution of Virginia that declared dissolution of the rule of the King of England passed on June 29, 1776.   Section 16 of that document declared:

…[R]eligion…and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and
conviction, …therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion…. 4

In 1789, the Constitution of the United States was amended to read “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….” 5 Ultimately, this led to an opening for Catholics to practice their religion.  Carrying a letter of introduction from Lafayette, Rev. Jean DuBois first celebrated mass in Richmond in 1791.  The first mass in Lynchburg was celebrated at Mrs. William Dornin’s home initiating a movement was to bring the Catholic Church to Irish Catholics in Lynchburg who were building the Kanawha canal.  By 1841, Father Daniel Downey was assigned to lead the Catholic community in Lynchburg.  They built the Church of St. Francis of Xavier in 1843.  The Church experienced significant growth under the leadership of Father James McGurk who was assigned to the parish in 1869.  This growth necessitated the building of a larger church, and Holy Cross Church was dedicated on September 14, 1879.  During the next century, Holy Cross continued to grow and was divided to form another Catholic church, St. Thomas More. 6 Holy Cross served as a sponsoring Church for missions in the Central Virginia area. Vincent Sansone, Assistant Archivist, in the Office of Archives for the Diocese of Richmond says that a St. Thomas Mission is mentioned as being in Amherst in 1883 and 1884, but he had no other information regarding this mission or what happened to it. 7

Catholicism Comes to Nelson County

The first Roman Catholic chapel in Nelson County, Virginia was built in 1901 on the grounds of Oak Ridge Estate by Thomas Fortune Ryan.   Mr. Ryan was a Nelson County native who was orphaned in his mid-teens.  He went to New York where he became a wealthy financier.   During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he was one of the ten wealthiest men in the United States.  He built the chapel so that his devout Catholic wife could attend mass when they were in residence at Oak Ridge.  Priests from Holy Cross in Lynchburg came by train to serve mass at the chapel.  Following Mr. Ryan’s death in 1928, the mansion and the chapel were rarely used.  However, the Ryan family would allow the chapel to be used for special religious occasions when individuals requested.  The privately owned chapel was built with beautiful hardwood floors and an authentic Tiffany stained glass window behind the altar, but it lacked modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing and electricity.  Most importantly, there was no priest assigned to serve mass. 

In the 1950s and early 1960s, there were only six Catholic families known to reside in Nelson County.  During that era, priests from Holy Cross in Lynchburg came only twice a month to the chapel and then just to celebrate mass.  A priest did not serve the chapel weekly.  Furthermore, parents had to take their children to Lynchburg for religious education classes.  The chapel was the designated home of Our Lady of Lourdes Mission. 

In 1960, Father Judge Mission Seminary opened in Monroe, VA, and the priests in residence took over the mission.  Finally, the chapel had one regular priest, Father Jerome Havonec, who came from the seminary to the mission every Sunday morning to celebrate mass.  Unfortunately, this arrangement with the seminary lasted less than a decade.  The busy seminary, that had been crowded with young men preparing to enter the priesthood in the early 1960s, dwindled down to just a few by the late 1960s as vocations decreased.  By 1970, the decision was made to close the Seminary and Our Lady of Lourdes was once again without a priest. 

Once again the priests from Holy Cross took on the Mission celebrating mass twice a month not on Sunday but on Thursday evenings.  From 1972 to 1978, the parish was a mission of St. George’s in Scottsville and was served by Father Aylward until he decided to go to Japan and resume his mission work there.  After Father Aylward announced his pending departure, Father Carl Naro volunteered to take on the Mission, which then came under Holy Comforter in Charlottesville. 8

Father Carl Naro Leads from Mission to Church

Father Naro was assigned to Holy Comforter in Charlottesville.  He had a home, “Naro Escape”, in Wingina where he stayed on Sunday nights.  Following Sunday morning services in Charlottesville, he came to Nelson County and said mass on Sunday evenings at the Mission.  He stayed in Wingina and remained in Nelson County on Mondays to minister to the members.  The fee he charged the Mission was a mere $25.00 per month for gas.  This was increased to $35.00 in 1980.

Before 1979, it was necessary for those desiring religious education to travel to the Seminary (until its closure) or sponsoring churches.  With Father Naro’s assistance, a plan for on-site religious education was developed.  Holy Comforter provided a professional religious educator who came to Oak Ridge once a month to teach and assist the families.  For the remainder of the month, religious education was taken care of at home. 

Following the death of Jimmy Ryan, his nephew, Peter Brady, controlled the Oak Ridge Estate.   Even though the Mission still had permission to use the chapel, they had no lease and no authority to make repairs or improvements.   Membership was growing and there was increased desire for modern plumbing and heating to be installed.  A metal railing was needed for the exterior of the church, and the building was in need of painting and other repairs.  Father Naro, parishioners and even Bishop Walter Sullivan wrote numerous letters to Mr. Brady requesting a lease for the property be granted, but no response was received.  In annual reports to Bishop Sullivan and the Richmond Diocese, the frustration is obvious as the inability to get a response from Mr. Brady regarding lease or purchase of the building is evident.  In 1979, Father Naro noted his main problem “First and primary is the chapel – it really needs major work. We are willing to do it – but we cannot.” 9  

In the 1980 report the same problem existed, but a railing at the entrance for the elderly was installed and the interior was painted.  Father wrote, “We simply told [Mr. Brady] what we would do by a given time and assumed his permission if he did not reply within the month.  Naturally he didn’t!” 10 In 1981, Father Naro reported no progress in efforts to get a response from Mr. Brady, despite asking the assistance of his mother who could not get him to respond either.  In his annual report to the Bishop, Father Naro advised, “Well founded rumor is that Peter has put Oak Ridge on the market for sale.”  11

Fortunately, at this time, the Lovingston Methodist Church was for sale because this church had merged with three other Methodist churches to form the Nelson United Methodist Church and had built a new church.  A letter from Father Naro detailing the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing the building that had been constructed in 1834 was read to the congregation on September 19, 1982.   In his opinion, the advantages far outweighed the disadvantages.  He concluded with his personal decision:

Buy the building now.  It will be fun and a joy to gradually improve the place as
we tackle the job together.  It will be a challenge to use and a risk, but all faith
includes a risk – so does love! 12

In his 1982 Annual Report, Father Naro conveyed to the Bishop that the members of Our Lady of Lourdes, by a vote of 32 to 3, decided to purchase Lovingston Methodist Church in Lovingston for $45,000.13  Once the decision was made to abandon the chapel and purchase the church building on Front Street in Lovingston, progress was swift. 

On September 30, 1982, Father Naro wrote to Peter Brady with a copy to his mother, Elinor Brady, advising, “within a month or two, the Catholic community [would] celebrate mass at Oak Ridge for the last time.  This mass will be offered especially for Thomas Fortune Ryan and the whole family who have been so gracious to us over these many years.”  In this letter, Father expressed his gratitude for the use of and concern for the fate of the historic “Lady Chapel” since the building would no longer be used weekly.  “We shall always remember the generosity of Thomas Fortune Ryan to us and truly to the whole [Catholic] Church in Virginia.” 14

Attorney, Joseph Serkes, handled the real estate negotiations and the legal work for the purchase of the building from the Methodists.  However, it was Father Naro who arranged the financing.  The Diocese agreed to contribute $20,000 towards the purchase of the building and $5,000 for necessary repairs.  Ultimately, the Diocese contributed $20,000 leaving the Mission with a debt of $25,000 with St. Benedict’s, which loaned $25,000 for the purchase of the church.  15 A deed was recorded at the Nelson County Courthouse on November 1, 1982 of the sale by Nelson United Methodist Church to “THE MOST REVEREND WALTER, F. SULLIVAN OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF RICHMOND, and his successors in office”.  16

The church was named St. Mary’s, in honor of the chapel at Oak Ridge Estate.  The church was dedicated on October 23, 1983 in a mass concelebrated by Bishop Sullivan.  In the Church one will find a painting of the chapel at Oak Ridge as well as many statues and furnishings from inside the chapel.  Peter Brady generously donated these to the Church after the Mission moved from Oak Ridge to Lovingston.  17

In 1985, Father Naro was assigned to St. Andrews in Roanoke where he served until his retirement in 1992.  In a letter of gratitude to Father Naro dated August 25, 1985 from Joseph Serkes, he writes:

….I call you Shepherd for you have guided and lead us to some wonderful
heights.  You alone found the path…from our chapel in the woods to…Front
Street in Lovingson….  [Y]ou have given us a new awareness of our faith….[b]ut
your greatest gift to us is you….a person of compassion with a sense of humor…
faults and strengths.  We will miss you, Father,…but we will not forget you.  You
will always remain in our hearts. 18

Again, the Mission became associated with St. George’s in Scottsville.  Father Hamlett was pastor of St. Mary’s through the 1990s.  Upon learning of the large Hispanic population in the county, he learned Spanish in order to include them in worship.  Bilingual masses were held weekly at St. Mary’s.  As the Hispanic membership continued to grow, they requested that a Spanish mass be instituted.  Today, there is a Spanish mass every Sunday at 11:30 a.m., which is attended by the church’s 41 Hispanic families.  Bi-lingual masses are still held for Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve services.  When Father Hamlett retired, the parish established a pre-requisite that his replacement speak Spanish as well as English.  Father Daniel Kelly arrived at St Mary’s in 1999 and continues to serve the bi-lingual congregation to date. 19

Personal Remembrances of St. Mary’s Parishioners

The true story of St. Mary’s growth is found in its parishioners.  

The Goad and Coco Families

The Goads and the Cocos were two of the original families of Our Lady of Lourdes.  The Goads were native to Central Virginia but Mr. Coco was an Italian Catholic attorney and accountant who moved to Nelson County to work at the American Cyanamid plant in Piney River.  He married a local woman and remained in Nelson County for the rest of his life.  Attorney, Robert Goad, Sr. married McKinney Coleman, an Irish Catholic woman from Lynchburg, VA, in 1946.  Their son, Robert “Buzz” Goad, Jr., was born in 1954.  He recalls that his father did not convert to Catholicism until 1960 because he had been advised by his mother-in-law that it would be bad for his business.  Even though she was a practicing Catholic herself, she was very concerned that the citizens of Nelson County would not seek the services of a Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Coco was very successful as an accountant at the plant and in private business.  Likewise, Mr. Goad was successful in his legal practice and eventually became a circuit court judge.  It would appear that because these men were professionals in a rural county, the citizens utilized their services despite their religious beliefs.

Mr. Coco and Mr. Goad developed a friendship with Jimmy Ryan who was a descendant of Thomas Fortune Ryan.  He was a somewhat eccentric world traveler who was occasionally in residence at Oak Ridge.  For reasons known only to him, he was reluctant to make any improvements to the building.  The congregants were grateful for a place to worship, but wanted to have electricity and modern plumbing installed.  Mr. Coco eventually convinced Mr. Ryan to agree that electricity could be run with the stipulation that electric service be run by underground cable.  Nonetheless, he refused to allow modern plumbing to be installed.

Buzz Goad remembers well the early days at Our Lady of Lourdes Mission.  Before electricity was installed to power electric heaters, there was no heat in the building, and he recalls filling cruets with water only to have it freeze over before communion.  Adding to the inconvenience of using a building without plumbing facilities, there also was no outhouse available.  The only place available to them for “going to the bathroom” was the woods. 

Mr. Goad also knows the discomfort of growing up Catholic in a Protestant county.  As a youngster in school, his classmates questioned him about Catholic rituals with questions such as, “Do you really sacrifice goats and drink their blood?”  Since he was in school during the 1960s when segregation was still the norm in county schools, those same classmates were even more astounded that he attended church services with black people. 20

The McGarry – Olah Family

The McGarry – Olah family is another example of a family that migrated to Nelson County from an urban Mid-Atlantic area.  Emmy McGarry and her family came to Nelson County from Maryland in 1968 in search of the peaceful country life.  She took her children to the Seminary for religious education classes, and remembers the transition necessary when the Seminary closed.  Again, priests from Holy Cross came to serve the Mission, but religious education classes were held at Holy Cross Church.  One of the priests was Father Naro who was instrumental in the move of the Mission to Lovingston.  He challenged the parishioners and led them to establish St. Mary’s Church in Lovingson.   He and his fellow priests traveled in cars with bumper stickers labeling them as the “The God Squad.”  Father Naro especially endeared himself to Mrs. McGarry and the members of the Mission.  He was transferred from Holy Cross in 1972.  Mrs. McGarry and her family began to attend St. George’s in Scottsville.  In time, they convinced St. George’s to take their chapel under its wing, and Father Richard Aylward served mass there until 1979 when he went as a missionary to Japan.  The church community supported Mrs. McGarry and her children as her husband battled cancer and following his death.  His funeral mass was held at Our Lady of Lourdes.  When the time came for her to marry Olah, the wedding was held at the Mission.  Understandably, the chapel is important to Mrs. Olah because it has fulfilled a significant role in the life of her family.  When her son married, permission was granted for him the wedding to take place on the grounds of the chapel, but could not be held indoors because the chapel had become structurally unsound.  21 (Personal interview with Emmy McGarry Olah)

The Visitor and Carrie Wade

Several months ago, a visitor to St. Mary’s told me about his first visit to St. Mary’s about ten years ago.   Being from New York, he was certain that he would have to go to Charlottesville to find a Catholic church in order to attend mass.  One Sunday morning, he stopped in Lovingston to get gas and asked where he would find the nearest Catholic church.  He was surprised and delighted to hear that there was a Catholic church in the town.  As he was going to mass, he saw an attractive older black woman in a large red hat that was “dressed to the nines” walking down the street.  He thought that she must be going to a Baptist church.  However, once seated at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, he saw the same woman enter the church.   As mass was celebrated, he was further surprised to learn that this woman was not only a member, but an extraordinary minister who assisted at communion by distributing the host.  He found the diversity at St. Mary’s refreshing.  He said this made him discard every preconceived idea he had about the South.  Carrie Wade was that woman.  22

Mrs. Wade recounted her experiences as a Catholic in Nelson County.  She was born and raised in the Roseland area—the daughter of a sharecropper who belonged to one of the county’s black Baptist churches.  In 1929, at the age of 18, she decided that “there had to be something better for her somewhere” and moved to Washington, D.C.  While living there, she converted to Catholicism.  43 years later, she and her husband retired to Nelson County.  She never wanted to come back.  However, her husband wanted to retire to the country, and he convinced her to come back.  So, they bought some land from her sister and built a house. 

Mrs. Wade was not concerned about how she would continue to practice her Catholic faith because she knew Holy Cross Catholic Church was in Lynchburg, and she would go to weekly mass even if it meant driving to Lynchburg.  Providentially, she found that in her absence the Mission had been established at Oak Ridge, and she became an active member of there.  Father Naro credits her with encouraging the membership to vote to abandon the chapel at Oak Ridge by standing up during a meeting with the Bishop to declare, “I want a Catholic Church in downtown Lovingston so bad I can taste it!”

Mrs. Wade’s husband was able to enjoy his retirement in the country for only a few years because he died of cancer.  By that time, Carrie had made the transition from life in urban Washington, DC to life in rural Nelson County.  She has no children but she has a strong network of church and community friends as well as nieces and nephews in the area.  In 2000, she was honored by them with a large 90th birthday celebration. 23

Diversity at St. Mary’s

The visitor to St. Mary’s may have been a little premature in his judgment about the South.  Unfortunately, the diversity found at St. Mary’s is not routinely found in all Nelson County churches or in the remainder of Central Virginia.  If he visited the churches of other religions, he would find that the majority of them have congregations made up of either black or white members, but not black and white.  In addition, some churches in the area have a mission outreach to Hispanic migrant workers, but they do not invite them to come to their churches and join them for services.

Growth of Catholicism in Nelson County

There are a number of factors that contributed to the growth of the Catholic community in Nelson County.  Some were non-Catholics who married Catholics and eventually converted.  One of these is Mrs. Robert Goad, Jr.   She was a Methodist from Amherst.  Her husband discouraged her from converting until they had been married for five years because he wanted to be sure that she was converting because she wanted to be a Catholic – not just because he was a Catholic. 24 Children of Catholic families have grown up to marry and set up their own households, thereby, increasing the number of families in the church.  Some members, such as Carrie Wade, Connie Bradshaw and I, moved from the area and converted to Catholicism.  Upon returning to the area, we sought out the Catholic Church.  Some were non-Catholics who married Catholics and eventually converted.

Most new members migrated to Nelson County from urban areas of Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Northeast.  Many of them originally found Nelson County as tourists when coming to the area to visit Wintergreen ski resort.  They found that not only is Nelson County a nice place to visit but also is a nice place to live and have relocated and become citizens of the county.  Many moved to Wintergreen itself and a few of these Catholics have joined St. Mary’s.  However, as Father Naro noted in his 1980 Annual Report to the Diocese, the majority of Catholics in the Wintergreen area go to mass in Waynesboro because it is closer than Lovingston.  Nonetheless, St. Mary’s has some members from Wintergreen and Afton. 25

By moving the Church to “downtown Lovingston”, just a block from the Nelson County Courthouse, the Catholic Church was put in the public eye.  At Oak Ridge, the Church was hidden away, and many county residents did not even know that it was there.  Just as Father Naro had predicted in his 1982 annual report to the Diocese, “I’m sure that when we move to the Village of Lovingston, unidentified ‘fallen aways’ will come out of the woodwork” membership in the church grew.  26

Deacon Dick Nees tells about coming to Virginia from New Jersey searching for a place to retire.  He looked on the west side of the Blue Ridge coming as far south as Staunton, but just didn’t find the right place.  While camping in the Shenandoah National Park, he and his wife Peggy saw lights on the east side of the mountains and decided to look there.  They wanted to be near a river and saw on the map that the James River was close by.  They went into the town of Lovingston where they found St. Mary’s Catholic Church and just next door there was a realty office.  They took that as a sign that they were choosing the right place and bought property in Shipman.  He and his wife, Peggy, are active and involved in all facets of St. Mary’s Church.  Their chance discovery of St. Mary’s, has been of great benefit to St. Mary’s.  Providentially, the first Sunday after they moved into their new home, they came to mass.  It was the last day for the church organist.  The following Sunday St. Mary’s would be without a musician.  Peggy volunteered her services as pianist.  She began playing piano for services the very next Sunday and still remains in that position. 27

The following chart was (created from census records and membership rosters in the church archives) and shows the phenomenal growth in the number of families attending St. Mary’s.

One can see that the Church’s numbers were very small in the 60s and 70s.  Today, the church has 25 times the number of families as it did in 1962.  During the single year from 1980 to 1981, Father Naro reported to the bishop a 50% increase in the number of families in the parish. 28

Comparative Data of Religion in Amherst and Nelson Counties

The U. S. Census has been prohibited from asking mandatory questions on religion since 1936, and that information is not found in the U.S. Statistical Abstracts.  However, the Census web site refers inquirers to the American Religion Data archive.  The addition of the 2000 Church Membership Data is scheduled to be completed in 2002.  The data is self-reported by churches, and in some instances like the Catholic Church in Nelson County and the Episcopal Church in Amherst County, it appears that they failed to update their numbers since there is no change noted and one can see from the preceding chart drawn from current data personally collected that there were changes in numbers for the Catholic Church in Nelson County. 

The following charts comparing data from 1980 and 1990 are from that source.  They show that the practice of organized religion in Nelson County is down even though its population is growing.   On the other hand, Amherst County churches report increased membership despite a decrease in population.  The numbers reported by Nelson County represent 64.1% of the county’s population in contrast to 47% of the population for Amherst County.

Statistics for Nelson County, VA

-------------1980------------

 

-------------1990---------

--1980-1990 Increase/Decrease

 

Denomination

Churches

Adherents

Churches

Adherents

Churches

Adherents

Adherents

 

 

 

 

 

#

#

%

Participants in 1980 and 1990 studies

 

 

 

 

 

AME ZION

0

0

1

59

1

59

N.A.

CATHOLIC

1

41

1

41

0

0

0.0%

CHR CH (DISC)

4

640

4

455

0

-185

-28.9%

CH GOD (CLEVE)

0

0

1

79

1

79

N.A.

CH OF BRETHREN

1

130

1

42

0

-88

-67.7%

CHS OF CHRIST

1

70

1

121

0

51

72.9%

EPISCOPAL

3

229

4

222

1

-7

-3.1%

MENNONITE CH

1

27

1

63

0

36

133.3%

PENT HOLINESS

2

76

3

112

1

36

47.4%

PRESB CH (USA)*

3

282

3

254

0

-28

-9.9%

SO BAPT CONV

18

5,082

18

4,909

0

-173

-3.4%

UN METHODIST

9

1,700

5

1,126

-4

-574

-33.8%

   Subtotal:

43

8,277

43

7,483

0

-794

-9.6%

 

The population for [Nelson[ county (or equivalent) in 1980 was 12,204; in 1990 it was 12,778.
The total population changed 4.7%. The unclaimed population represents 35.9% of the total in 1990.

 

Statistics for Amherst County, VA

  -------------1980------------

 

-------------1990--------

--1980-1990 Increase/Decrease

 

Denomination

Churches

Adherents

Churches

Adherents

Churches

Adherents

Adherents

 

 

 

 

 

#

#

%

Participants in 1980 and 1990 studies

 

 

 

 

 

CHR CH (DISC)

2

466

2

427

0

-39

-8.4%

CHR CHS&CHS CR

1

607

1

544

0

-63

-10.4%

CH GOD (CLEVE)

1

58

1

82

0

24

41.4%

CH OF BRETHREN

1

114

0

0

-1

-114

N.A.

EPISCOPAL

4

420

4

420

0

0

0.0%

PENT HOLINESS

1

36

1

27

0

-9

-25.0%

PRESB CH (USA)*

4

628

4

757

0

129

20.5%

PRESB CH AMER*

1

78

0

0

-1

-78

N.A.

SO BAPT CONV

14

4,553

17

5,384

3

831

18.3%

UN METHODIST

18

4,026

15

3,562

-3

-464

-11.5%

JEWISH EST**

0

0

0

110

0

110

N.A.

   Subtotal:

47

10,986

45

11,313

-2

327

3.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The population for [Amherst] county (or equivalent) in 1980 was 29,122; in 1990 it was 28,578.
The total population changed -1.9%. The unclaimed population represents 53.0% of the total in 1990.

29

St. Francis of Assisi Community in Amherst

In 1996, the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community was established in Amherst and holds weekly mass at Ascension Episcopal Church in Amherst.  There are fifty families in the parish.  They have been raising funds and will soon begin construction on their church building.  Father Dan Kelly serves as pastor of their church as well as St. Mary’s.   He is also the priest for Catholic students at Sweet Briar College where he celebrates mass on Monday evenings during the academic year.  In addition, he ministers to the Hispanic population of the Buckingham Correctional Institute in Dillwyn.  30

Conclusion

Despite a loss of members at St. Mary’s when St. Francis was formed, and the creation of another Hispanic mass in Charlottesville, the Church in Lovingston is outgrowing its space because new families continue to move into the area.  The Church has purchased land on the mountain overlooking Lovingston and has established a Building Fund to build a larger Church there.  The growth of this church and the increased numbers of Catholics in Nelson County can be traced back to the faith of a few families, who when challenged by Father Naro, took the leap of faith and assumed the associated risks to purchase the church in Lovingston. 

The Church continues to have high visibility and works actively with other churches in Nelson County’s to provide ecumenical services to the County by participating in Habitat for Humanity, the Nelson County Food Pantry and the Nelson County Volunteer Coalition.  Through these activities service is provided to the elderly and needy of the county.  Besides helping their neighbors, these activities let others in the community see the Catholic Church in a positive light.  31

Personal Note

I would like to express my sincere thanks for assistance provided to me by Father Carl Naro, Father Daniel Kelly, Carrie Wade, Emmy McGarry Olah, and Buzz Goad.  They graciously agreed to share their time with me in order to relate their personal.  In addition to talking with me, Father Kelly generously allowed me access to St. Mary’s Archives.  These documents proved invaluable in the preparation of this paper.  Thanks also to Vincent Sansone at the Office of Archives at the Richmond Diocese who took the time to talk to me by phone and Joseph Serkes who shared his file and his correspondence relating to the purchase of the church.  A special thank you is offered to the nameless visitor who inspired me to think about the diversity at St. Mary’s.  

 


 

Endnotes

1.   The Avalon Project: The First Charter of Virginia; April 10, 1606.  20 Apr. 2002. <http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/va01.htm>

2.   The Avalon Project: The First Charter of Virginia; April 10, 1606.   20 Apr. 2002. <http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/va02.htm>

3.   Boothby, Lee.  Pluralism the Pathway to Peace.  Paper presented 1997 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.20 Apr. 2002.  <http://www.irla.org/fel1998/boothby.html>

4.   The Avalon Project: The Second Charter of Virginia; May 23, 1609.  20 Apr. 2002.  <http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/va02.htm>

5.   The Avalon Project : Bill of Rights was last modified on: 05/01/2002.  20 Apr. 2002.   

6.    History of Holy Cross.  10 Nov. 2001 <http://www.lynchburg.net/holycross/history.htm>

7.   Sansone, Vincent. “Telephone Interview”.  6 March 2002.

8.    Written parish profile of from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives – undated from St. Mary’s Cathlic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA.

9.    Annual report to Bishop Walter Sullivan by Father Carl Naro dated 21 Aug. 1979 from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA.

10.  Annual report to Bishop Walter Sullivan by Father Carl Naro dated 25 Aug. 1980 from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA.

11.  Annual report to Bishop Walter Sullivan by Father Carl Naro dated 25 Aug 1981 from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA.

12.  Letter from Father Carl Naro to the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes dated 19 Sep. 1982. from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA.

13.  Annual report to Bishop Walter Sullivan by Father Carl Naro dated 30 Sep. 1982 from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA.

14.  Letter from Father Carl Naro to Peter Brady dated 30 Sep. 1982 from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA.

15.  Copy of Deed dated 1 Nov. 1982 from Records of Attorney Joseph Serkes, Lovingston, VA.

16.  St. Mary’s Church Archives and personal interview with Father Carl Naro 17 Mar. 2002.

17.  Written parish profile undated from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA. – undated.

18.   Letter from Joseph Serkes to Father Carl Naro dated August 25, 1985 from records of Attorney Joseph Serkes, Lovingston, VA

19.   Kelly, Daniel “Personal Interview” 8 Apr. 2002.

20.  Goad, Robert, Jr. "Personal Interview”.  24 March 2002.

21.  Olah, Emmy.  "Personal Interview”.  12 March 2002.

22.  Unnamed Visitor to St. Mary’s date unknown.

23.  Wade, Carrie.  "Personal Interview”.  27 February 2002.

24.  Goad, Robert, Jr. "Personal Interview”.  24 March 2002.

25. Written parish profile of from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives – undated

26.  Annual report to Bishop Walter Sullivan by Father Carl Naro dated 30 Sep 1982 from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA.

27.  Nees, Dick and Peggy.  “Personal Interview” 28 April 2002.

28.  St. Mary’s Catholic Church census records and rosters 1962-2002 from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA.

29.  American Religion Data Archive.  Church Growth Research Center, Church of the Nazarene 20 Apr. 2002. http://www.thearda.com/arda.asp?Show=Home

30.  Kelly, Daniel “Personal Interview” 8 Apr. 2002.

31.  Written parish profile undated from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Archives, Lovingston, VA. – undated.


 

Bibliography


St. Mary’s Church Archives, Lovingston, VA

Records of Joseph relating to the purchase of the property in Lovingston.

Personal Interviews

Goad, Robert, Jr. "Personal Interview”.  24 March 2002.
Kelly, Daniel.  "Personal Interview”.  8 April 2002.
Naro, Carl.  "Personal Interview”.  17 March 2002.
Nees, Dick.  “Personal Interview”  25 February 2002.
Olah, Emmy.  "Personal Interview”.  12 March 2002.
Sansone, Vincent. “Telephone Interview”.  6 March 2002.
Wade, Carrie.  "Personal Interview”.  27 February 2002.


On-line Sources

American Religion Data Archive.  Church Growth Research Center, Church of the Nazarene: Churches and Church Membership in the United States 1980; Churches and Church Membership in the United States 1990.  20 Apr. 2002.  <http://www.thearda.com/arda.asp?Show=Home>

The Avalon Project: The First Charter of Virginia; April 10, 1606.  Ed. Frances Newton Thorpe.  Apr. 20, 2002. The Lillian Goldman Law Library.  Yale U. 20 Apr. 2002.  <http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/va01.htm>.*

The Avalon Project: The Second Charter of Virginia; May 23, 1609.  Ed. Frances Newton          Thorpe.  The Lillian Goldman Law Library.  Yale U. 20 Apr. 2002.    <http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/va02.htm>*

The Avalon Project: The Constitution of Virginia; June 29, 1776. Ed. Frances Newton Thorpe.  The Lillian Goldman Law Library.  Yale U. 20 Apr. 2002.* <http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/states/va05.htm>

Boothby, Lee.  Pluralism the Pathway to Peace.  Paper presented 1997 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.20 Apr. 2002.  <http://www.irla.org/fel1998/boothby.html>

History of Holy Cross.  10 Nov. 2001.  20 Apr. 2002.  <http://www.lynchburg.net/holycross/history.htm>
 

*Source:  The Federal and State Constitutions Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America
Compiled and Edited Under the Act of Congress of June 30, 1906 by Francis Newton Thorpe
Washington, DC : Government Printing Office, 1909. 
USMARC Cataloging Record

  


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