September 21 marked a great day for the small, but growing, Catholic community in Lafayette, Tenn. It was dedication day for Holy Family’s new church building. Bishop Mark Spalding of Nashville officiated at the joyous event, which was celebrated by about 400 people, including parishioners and many guests.
Glenmary came to the county 35 years ago, when the few Catholics in the area were traveling about an hour to go to Mass across the state line from this rural county. Father Dennis Holly was the first pastor. The parishioners met at a home, then eventually, “we bought this little church, no windows,” recalls parishioner Anna Breeding. It was an abandoned, half-constructed Church. It was the only building that anyone would sell to Catholics. Breeding remembers the building well: It was an unfinished basement with nothing above it, a dirt floor, even an occasional snake!
Parishioner Yvette Baber stopped amid the festivities to talk about what the new building means to her: “It means everything!” she exclaims. “We struggled for a long time, and today it really hit me that we have our own church.”
Looking back on the 1980s, she recalls how the Church has grown in Macon County. “At first we had hardly any Catholics at all.” But people found out about the Church, then as Catholic Hispanics moved into the area things took off. Baber thinks ex-Catholics in the area will start coming. “Before we didn’t have enough parking, and really not a lot of seating—I think more people will come here.”
Glenmary Father Vic Subb echoes Baber’s insight: “People used to say, ‘I didn’t know there was a Catholic church in Lafayette!’ They know we’re here now. It’s a permanent place in the community.”
Says Baber, “We hoped and prayed, and tried to get one here, and we finally got it. It’s just wonderful.”