Gathering in the Sheep

Gathering in the Sheep2017-06-09T14:21:48+00:00

image0012The Marble Hill Mission disappeared around the start of the twentieth century, and whatever regularity Catholics in Pickens might have enjoyed, presumably through the Marist Fathers, eventually came to an end.  But around the same time, the railroad came to Tate making the marble quarries profitable, bringing in more and more skilled laborers, some of whom were Catholics.  The Great War came and went, and there was a moment of prosperity.  A luxurious development was planned in Jasper, but then the Great Depression hit hard, and it went bankrupt.

With that, a number of prominent Atlanta families began to form a summer colony at that now less deluxe version of what is today Tate Mountain Estates (off Monument Road).  Their families retreated along the shores of Lake Sequoyah to escape the city’s heat.  The Catholic families among them might not return to the city for Sunday Masses, but would instead invite priests to join them, including Father Joseph Cassidy or Father Cooper.  These priests would come up to say Mass at the Alex Smith house.  Other Catholic families who might be in attendance were the de Give’s, the Wilber’s, the Bryan’s, the Sherrer’s, and the Lee’s.  Occasionally Jesuit priests would come up, like Father Larry Hein or Father Charley Bartles, or even the abbot of Conyers, Abbot Augustine Moore, and they would offer Mass at the de Give home.

Still, outside the gates, there were more and more Catholics living year round scattered about the county.  For example, there were Italians in Nelson who worked for the marble quarries who had pretty much already ended up becoming Baptists for lack of priests.  The famous “trailer priest” of North Georgia, Monsignor Joseph Cassidy might have stopped now and then, but something more consistent was clearly needed.  So eventually, priests began celebrating the Mass in the town of Jasper, where they would become more and more common.  This next brief chapter would bring to our county the Redemptorists, who were stationed in the newly established Saint Joseph in Dalton.

The Redemptorists were a powerful force in establishing the Church in the U.S., known for both preached missions and missionary work.  From Dalton, the Redemptorists endeavored to fan out all over northwest Georgia drawing together the scattered sheep of Catholics through the sacraments.  They too had a trailer chapel that they could pull through the mountain towns, but always the idea was to plant missions.

So in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the Redemptorist Fathers designated Tate or Jasper as a “mission station.”  They would drive here and offer Mass first in private homes (like those of Mr. Henry de Give at Tate Mountain Estates).  Later they began offering Mass at the Jasper Women’s Club Building (presently the Tom Quinton Memorial Arts Center) on Sunday evenings at 5:00 p.m., and Mr. de Give would unlock the building, and start setting up for Mass.  Moving the Mass into town was done with the hopes that a chapel would eventually be built in Jasper.

We know some of the names of the Redemptorist Fathers who were stationed in North Georgia, and who could have visited Pickens County to offer the Mass during this time.  We know that Father James McCann and Father Daniel McGlone offered the Mass here early on.  We also know that Father Maurice McDonald and Father Anthony Kolb visited Jasper to offer up the Mass.

Eventually the parish of Saint Francis was established in Cartersville, and given to the LaSalette Fathers.  That event started the next chapter of our history, but for a while it was the Redemptorist Order that ministered to souls in Pickens County, and offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Jasper.