Story and photos by LIZ QUIRIN
Members of St. Mary Parish in Mound City are invited to join members of St. Patrick Parish in Cairo to form a new community along with members of St. Catherine in Grand Chain.
A closing liturgy was celebrated at 11 a.m. Feb. 23 in which Father Michael Christopher Mujule, administrator, invited people to celebrate their Catholic faith as they form a new, larger community in Cairo.
St. Mary was organized in 1857 when Catholic families moved to Mound City and began to gather in people’s homes with a priest whenever it was possible.
The first church was built in 1863, a frame structure 25 by 56 feet and served the congregation for 30 years according to a parish history.
While the pastor of St. Patrick in Cairo would travel to Mound City to celebrate the liturgy, a resident pastor was eventually assigned to the parish.
In 1992, the parish celebrated the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the church. The program not only described the church’s early years but also described more recent events.
In a statement from the past that is becoming prologue to the future of the Mound City Catholic community, someone wrote: “The people of St. Mary Parish have a rich history to remember and to celebrate. The threads of love and dedication are woven throughout this history. It is full of good times and bad times, joys and sorrows. Through all of these times the faith of the people, who are the Church, has held together. This makes for a beautiful fabric that continues to grow and unfold under the loving care of god and the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
St. Raphael, a mission parish of St. Mary was opened in 1905 and closed in 1963. Stations of the Cross and a large crucifix were moved to St. Mary.
At the last Saturday liturgy at St. Mary, members of the parish and from St. Catherine in Grand Chain stood together with Father Mujule to carry out a healing service for the parish.
Part of the service included: “God of our ancestors, you walked with us from generation to generation, bring us together in the presence of your compassion. You have made us aware of wounds left in this community. Fill in those places … with your truth, justice, peace and mercy. Reconstruct now the boundaries of this community in the most inclusive way, that we may be a more authentic sacrament of the fellowship at the table where you live and reign forever and ever.”
Bringing together parishes to form a new community will take time, effort, prayer and openness, Father Mujule said. He encouraged everyone to be open to God’s word and work within them as they open a new chapter in their lives of faith.