Monday, July 27, 2009

125 Years of Catholics in Columbia, VA

I was delighted to receive from a friend in the mail today the July 27 issue of The Catholic Virginian, which includes a cover story about our former parish in the town of Columbia - St. Joseph's Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel:
St. Joseph’s/Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel in Columbia is probably the only church in the Diocese of Richmond located in a town with fewer than 50 people.

According to the 2000 Census, there were 49 people in 18 families in the rural town located at the fork of the James and Rivanna Rivers where three counties — Fluvanna, Cumberland and Goochland — join together. It is 52 miles west of Richmond and 22 miles southeast of Charlottesville.

The white frame church, which sits on a hill, is 125 years old. It sits across from St. John Episcopal Church in the front and across from the town Post Office on the side.

Probably few people in Virginia know that Columbia was once envisioned as the capital of the new state of Virginia.

Father N. Alan Lipscomb is pastor of the parish community, which has 67 registered families. Mass is celebrated Sundays at 9 a.m. and on Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m.

In addition to Father Lipscomb, Mass is celebrated on alternate Sundays by Father Gerald Musuubiri, a priest from Uganda who has been released from his diocese for six years service in the Richmond diocese.

The Catholic roots of Columbia date back to 1884 when William and Catherine O’Donnell Wakeham were the first Catholic family to settle in the rural Virginia community. They founded the Wakeham Chapel in 1884 which later became St. Joseph’s Church.

Mother Katharine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament who had started an apostolate for Native American and African American children, was responsible for bringing a young black woman, Lydia O’Hare, to Columbia in 1904. Miss O’Hare’s role was to be catechist, organist, sacristan and schoolteacher in the one-room mission school which had been built a year earlier by Fred Nicholas, who later was to become her husband in 1906.

[Read the whole thing]

I dearly miss that old parish. While we are in Virginia for a couple of weeks in August, I hope to go back for a visit.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Feast of St. Katharine Drexel - 3 March (2009)

Favorite Churches Meme

Dedication of Grotto to St. Katharine Drexel

Feast of St. Katharine Drexel - 3 March (2008)

Feast of St. Katharine Drexel - 3 March (2007)

Feast Day of St. Katharine Drexel - 3 March (2006)

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