History

St. Catherine’s had its beginnings in the spring of 1986. It was then a handful of local Catholics met with Rev. Richard Kieran, then pastor of St. Joseph’s in Athens, to celebrate Mass at the Newbury home. This is how area Catholics, who had been driving to distant parishes, met one another for the first time. The next month they met at the Shapland’s, then the Freyon’s and so we began. Sr. Catherine Concannon began driving down from Clarkesville on Wednesdays to lead prayer and discussion group at Freyon’s Vacuum Cleaner Center. She was the first “face of the Catholic Church” in Jackson County. She visited the sick and homebound as Eucharist Minister and friend, worked at the Jackson County Food Bank and taught reading at the prison.

In 1987, Father Jack Druding, pastor of St. Mary’s in Toccoa, was given responsibility for the mission. Father Bill Calhoun became the pastor in June. The now 15-family community gathered to worship on Saturdays at a 7:30 PM Vigil mass. Father Bill Calhoun celebrated the first regular weekly Mass on August 6, 1987 in the church’s first store-front home, the Vacuum Center, on State Street, Commerce, GA. Sr. Catherine taught CCD and RCIA until she was reassigned by her order in the Spring of 1990. With Sister gone and Father Bill heavily involved with a building project at St. Mary’s the young mission searched for help.

It was Deacon Jim O’Brian whom they found to teach a weekly adult Bible study, visit the sick, and those in prison. The community was growing so a second storefront was found in a shopping strip along Hwy. 98. The men dusted off hammers and saws and made much needed CCD classrooms. Growing pains included sharing the parking lot with a pizza parlor and pool hall patrons. Another challenge was the added cost forcing the church community to forego the services of a Deacon. Before the lease expired on the new “storefront Church” a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall became available. It was purchased 7/1/1993; we had 25 families. “St. Mary Mission” was then dedicated “St Catherine Laboure” in honor of Sr. Catherine and the French Nun through whom God has given us the “Miraculous Medal.”

In September of 1994, Father Flood was named pastor. He changed our Mass time from Saturday to 11:30 on Sunday. This made a big difference in Mass attendance. He also petitioned the Archbishop for approval for our tabernacle housing the Real Presence of our Lord.

Thanks to the dedication of the leaders of the Capital Campaign, St. Catherine’s was the first of the Block II parishes to meet our goal. Not ones to rest on their laurels, the men of the parish again dusted off hammers and saws to undertake a major renovation of the interior of St. Catherine’s. The new wings of the Sanctuary (1997) and the new CCD mobile classrooms (1998) were fruits of their labor. 

Father Liem, came to us in 2005. With the continuous growth of our parish, we were in need of a church building to accommodate our Church family.   In early 2005, 13 acres of rural land was purchased on the west side of the City of Commerce to build a larger church.  In 2006, we had approximately 80 registered families in the parish, and we are continuing to grow.  It was necessary to add an additional Mass on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. to accommodate our growing church family.

Rev. J. Liem Nguyen, the Parish Council, and the Finance Committee set up a Building Committee in 2006, and the plans of building our new church were underway.   The Councils and Committees determined after a study of our needs and the needs of a Catholic Church for the Jackson County area that the Woodbridge location was not the best solution.  We were blessed to find property in Jefferson that would fit the needs of our growing family and accommodate the Catholics in Jackson County. The Finance Committee and Building Committee put in a tremendous amount of work planning a Capital Campaign to raise funds. They attended meetings with the Archdiocese to seek approval for the project, acquired bids from contractors to build the church, and met with the Jackson County Planning Department to obtain the proper building permits, and the list goes on and on. Through prayer and hard working these committees, Father Liem, and the parish family celebrated our ground breaking on August 30, 2008, and we were honored to have Archbishop Gregory with us for this celebration. We know our prayers have been answered and our new church is a reality.

On June 30, 2009, Father Liem Nguyen left us to start a new Ministry; Fr. Liem will dedicate three years to help with a campaign which seeks to help the sick, elderly, and retired priests in Vietnam.

On July 1, 2009, we were blessed with our new pastor, Father Terrance Crone. Father Terry was born and raised in Memphis, TN. He move to Atlanta to go Georgia Tech where he earned a Bachelor's of Electrical Engineering degree. Father Terry went to St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, PA. On June 15, 2002, he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Donoghue.

On September 27, 2009, we opened the doors and held our first Mass at our current location on Elrod Road.  On December 6, 2009, we were blessed to have the Dedication of our Church building with Bishop Luis Zamara as presider.

January 19, 2010 brought the news that the mission had been elevated in status to a parish.  Father Terry Crone was named as our first pastor. 

In July 2013, Father Zahuta became our new pastor.  We were blessed to have Father Zahuta until summer of 2014 when Father Vincent Sullivan became our new pastor. We look forward to his leadership, as we continue to build our new church in Jefferson, GA, and as our parish family continues to grow in number.

As members of St. Catherine Laboure, we are all building the future of the Catholic Church in Jackson and adjoining counties.  We are growing but may God grant that the believers who gather here always remain a warm, friendly, and self-motivated community.

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