Diocese moves ahead with plans to tear down former rectory

Published 9:57 am Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The old rectory building at St. Mary Catholic Church is coming down.

Built in 1906 as part of the original construction of the church, the Rev. Malcolm O’Leary said he expects the demolition to be complete within a month or two.

“It’s already in the process,” he said.

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O’Leary said the property is in poor condition and is a community eyesore.

“You can’t live in it. Some rogues or thieves came in and stole the windows, probably because they are old and they could sell them,” he said.

O’Leary said the parish council has agreed the building should be taken down.

“The bishop requested we take it down. It’s not like we’re going against the wishes of the parish council,” he said.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz leads the Diocese of Jackson.

“It will become just part of the church property and will probably be used for parking. It will just be out of the way,” O’Leary said.

One churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor to The Vicksburg Post recently, complaining that the rectory is set to be torn down.

“That old priests’ house was one of the original parish structures. It was the place where Father Stanley Gootee lived and from which, lacking a car, he walked all over the city, most notably to Marcus Bottom, where, to many, he was the first white man ever to seek entry into black homes where he was welcomed and befriended, and where only a decade ago, people then in their 80s and 90s told me they would be Catholic today, if only Father Gootee had stayed here,” wrote Yolande Robbins in her letter.

Robbins said it was the house where Father John Kist “heroically allowed the students of Freedom Summer in 1964 to meet and have some respite from their fear.”