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St. Paul parishioners surprise pastor with parade

It was balloons, M&Ms and posters for “Father Rusty” Tuesday as St. Paul Catholic Church parishioners showed their appreciation for their pastor’s effort to help them keep in touch with their faith.

Since the restrictions placed on gatherings due to the pandemic, St. Paul pastor the Rev. Rusty Vincent has stayed in contact with his parishioners through streaming Sunday Masses on Facebook and other programs to help them stay connected with the church.

He streamed Holy Week services and Easter Mass. He took to the air in a biplane on April 2 to sprinkle holy water and pray over the city. 

Tuesday evening, nearly 30 cars containing parishioners passed by the church to surprise Vincent with flowers and gifts of his favorite candy, M&Ms.

“This is just to say ‘thank you’ for keeping us connected, the masses and the special things he’s put on Facebook,” one of the parade organizers Allyson Johnson said. She said the idea came from another parishioner, Allison McSherry, who recently moved to Vicksburg from Indiana.

“Allison said they did something like this for a priest in Indiana, and said ‘We need to do something like this for Father Rusty.’ She contacted me because they’re new to Vicksburg and didn’t know a lot of people, and I said, ‘We’ll get it done,'” Johnson said.

Johnson said a notice about the parade went out through Facebook.

Vincent said no one tipped him off about the parade, adding Johnson sent him an email asking him to meet her and her family Tuesday evening.

“There was something they wanted me to do,” he said. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll be there.’ I’ll be honest; I was a little bit suspicious. I didn’t know what to expect.” 

He called the parade a nice surprise.

“I haven’t seen a lot of the people who came through in six weeks, so it was nice to see some faces I haven’t seen in while and nice to get the support. It was an affirmation, too. It shows that a lot of the efforts I’ve been making over the last few weeks have been really affecting people,” he said. “It was nice to have.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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