My parents, Cliff and Audrey, then in their early 30’s, moved from Pennsylvania to Georgia in 1953, pursuant to my Dad accepting an assignment at Camp Gordon, GA. Dad was a sergeant with the Signal Corps, working in World War II type wooden barracks at the fort, and settling his family, including my Mom, sister Audrey and me, in a South Augusta community named Fleming Heights. We lived in a rented brick duplex home, where there were many, many other houses looking just like ours, with adjoining plumbing and bathrooms/bathtubs, where my sister and I could talk to the kids next door through the bathtub drains running through the wall separating our homes.
Fleming Heights was comprised of lots of military families, many of whom brought their Catholic faith with them from other parts of the country. In the early 1950’s there was no neighborhood Catholic Church or school, except miles way, and many at least wanted a parish nearby. Georgia was considered mission territory within the Bible belt, with relatively few Catholics.
Mom, Dad and other parents soon got behind an effort to establish a mission church, named in honor of St. Joseph, which started in a former Protestant church building, I believe, and within a couple of years moved to a new structure on Lumpkin Road, which was much closer to our homes. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church was in many ways the center of our universe, where we attended Mass, served as Altar Boys at the Latin Mass, received the sacraments, danced at CYO socials, and several of us later attended St. John Vianney Minor Seminary in our high school years in Savannah.
Mom was big on taking us to confession every other Saturday evening, (whether we needed to go or not 😊), having us kneel and say the Rosary at home, making sure we followed fast and abstinence rules, not missing any Holy Days, etc. The one missing element was a Catholic school. Sacred Heart School was at that time a terrific solution, with Sisters of Mercy providing instruction, although the school more than five miles away. Most families had one car, needed to get to work at the fort, so a school bus was required if the kids were to attend Catholic school. (To be continued.)
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