| By Allen McClendon

‘Against the odds’

St. Mary’s in Eutaw reopens it doors

Share the Good News, share what we have, love one another. As Catholics, this is what we are asked to do. It is fundamental to who we are. For most of us in larger parishes, it is common to lend a helping hand to those in need. We address our immediate community; however, we can tend to forget about the less populated areas of the diocese. Greene County in the west-central portion of Alabama is one of the most rural areas of our state. A recent census estimates a population of 7,730, making it the least populous county in Alabama, with more than 30 percent of families living in poverty. There is great need, yet resources are few.

In these rural areas especially, we cannot overlook the significance of the Church, what it provides, and the impact its ministries have on daily life. Unfortunately, many rural communities lack the resources to sustain a church and must rely on coordinated outreach with other parishes and charitable resources throughout the diocese to impact those often forgotten and overlooked.  This reality, however, does not make them any less important.

St. Mary Catholic Church, in Eutaw, is a perfect example of the importance of a rural parish partnership through which a marginalized community is served. Throughout the years, despite limited resources, the work within St. Mary Parish has been described as transformational by community and religious leaders. Sadly, like many small, rural churches with limited resources, St. Mary ultimately fell into disrepair and was unable to remain open, with her doors being closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Against the odds, a strong network of support remained, though, and the ministry continued as prayers were answered. Many faithful across the diocese came together to ensure St. Mary’s and other rural parishes would continue to impact the people of small communities and beyond, helping families meet and overcome challenges through the transforming message of Jesus Christ and a variety of physical and spiritual means.

Through the many generous contributions from private donors, ministries supported through Bishop Raica’s Annual Appeal for Catholic Charities and Communities, the efforts of countless volunteers, our religious leadership, and support of other parishes, repairs to St. Mary Catholic Church were completed. St. Mary’s celebrated its first Mass in more than two years on Nov. 4.

Thanks be to God, an easily forgotten rural parish in Greene County has reopened its doors to serve the community once again.

Allen McClendon is the Director for Development and Stewardship