by the Rev. Peggy King Scott, Priest-in-Charge, St. Mary’s, Morganza, and St. Paul’s Holy Trinity, New Roads
Photographs courtesy of St. Mary’s, Morganza

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Morganza, Louisiana celebrated the 100th anniversary of the consecration of its church building on Saturday, April 23, 2016, with joyful participation from a cross section of the local community as well as guests from further away. The Right Reverend Morris K. Thompson, Jr., D.D., the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana, officiated at the service, assisted by The Venerable Archdeacon of the Diocese, the Reverend Cynthia Obier, and The Reverend Peggy King Scott, Priest-in-Charge of  St. Mary’s Church and St. Paul’s Holy Trinity Church in New Roads. Episcopalians from area churches – St. Stephen’s Church in Innis, Church of the Nativity in Rosedale, St. Paul’s Holy Trinity Church in New Roads, and Grace Church in St. Francisville – joined current and former parishioners and their families, area residents and Morganza Mayor S. Tuminello to fill the pews and the extra chairs brought in for the event.

Following an opening hymn and a prayer of thanksgiving for all who had worshiped at St. Mary’s throughout its history, the gathered assembly heard stories from attendees concerning their favorite memories of being at St. Mary’s Church. St. Mary’s acolytes, Grayson Gustin and Brandon Wiley, shared how they composed the artwork which was used to illustrate the service leaflet and the document, Reflections Upon a 100th Anniversary, written by Rev. Scott. Former Rectors in attendance, Rev. C. Dan Krutz and Rev. Don Brown, shared their memories as did members of the family of the late Rev. Miller S. Armstrong, III who had served the parish for 30 years. Mr. Brian Costello brought greetings to the congregation from the Order of St. Lazarus and Mr. Stafford Chenevert offered personal greetings and appreciation for St. Mary’s work to maintain its historical cemetery. Ms. Carolyn Douglas brought greetings from the Episcopal Church Women. Parishioners from other churches and family members of current and former members of St. Mary’s Church shared memories. Rev. Scott offered appreciation and presented certificates prepared by Julie Gustin to the former rectors, to Senior Warden Fay Rock Gustin, to Nina Gustin as the longest serving member of the church, and to Debbie Gustin as coordinator for the 100th anniversary celebration.

These memories and thoughts, which brought both tears and laughter to the gathering, were offered up as thanksgivings as the service of Holy Eucharist continued. At the close of the service, Bishop Thompson blessed the congregation. During the recessional, Rev. Scott, using the brass water bucket and aspergilium donated to the church in memory of Mrs. Muriel Gustin, sprinkled the guests with holy water.

Acolyte Grayson Gustin carried the processional cross to lead the attendees at the service down the street to the adjacent St. Ann’s Catholic Church for additional time of reunion and fellowship in St. Ann’s CDC building. Mr. and Mrs. Larry Stuard, local caterers and members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church at Innis, served a delicious meal. A bountiful table of sweets – Morganza cakes, petit fours, cookies, divinity, and other cakes – prepared by Debbie Gustin of St. Mary’s and members of St. Ann’s church, kept everyone talking for quite a while. All present were particularly appreciative of the women of St. Ann’s church for their hospitality and for the ecumenical spirit of the gathering.

On display in the Parish Hall of St. Ann’s were memorabilia representative of St. Mary’s history. The Bible presented to the congregation on April 30, 1914, by Mrs. Katherine B. Kitchell was on display as were some of the Eucharistic vestments originally used at St. Mary’s. Photographs, liturgical books, some of the items donated to St. Mary’s through the years in memory of beloved parishioners, and original artwork by Debbie Gustin, Grayon Gustin and Brandon Wiley were on view. A video of pictures from the era of Rev. Armstrong, prepared by his wife Mary Ann Armstrong, was shown. Also displayed was a beautiful quilt, stitched with The Friendship Cross pattern by Debbie Gustin and presented to Rev. Scott in honor of the 100th birthday celebration.

What became known as “St. Mary’s Church, Morganza,” began as a Sunday School meeting in the home of Mr. and Mrs. James W. Campbell; the congregation became a mission of the Diocese of Louisiana in 1912. St. Stephen’s Church in Innis supported the mission until a church building was constructed and dedicated on May 7, 1916. A plaque installed at St. Mary’s Church commemorates the occasion and reads: TO THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD, AND IN LOVING MEMORY OF MRS. SARAH ARCHER, THIS CHAPEL WAS ERECTED BY THE WOMAN’S AUXILIARY OF LOUISIANA, EASTER 1916. Mrs. Archer, whose home was north of Morganza, had been active in Episcopal life prior to the commencement of the Civil War and had been a founding member of St. Stephen’s Church. The Woman’s Auxiliary of The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana represented all Episcopal women in the State of Louisiana; these were the women who collected the funds to build the church and to deliver it free and clear of any debt to the people of Morganza. The Woman’s Auxiliary also gave a silver communion set to St. Mary’s Church and that communion set, which was in use prior to the construction of the building, was also used at the 100th celebration Holy Eucharist. The church was named “St. Mary’s” in honor of the women who worked so hard to establish the congregation and build the building.

Read Historical Reflections on St. Mary’s 100th Anniversary

Read a Letter to the ECW

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