Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

This profile was last updated in 2006

This profile was prepared by student researchers Jason P. Adams and Jeremy Baker of Valdosta State University, under the direction of Dr. Richard Amesbury.

Introduction

When the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was founded nearly a century ago, it was one of only a few Roman Catholic congregations in the area. Today, the church is home to both an English-speaking congregation and a large and thriving Latino congregation.

Demographics

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church offers Masses in both English and Spanish. About half of the English service is composed of men and women around 40 years of age, and the rest are either adolescents or senior citizens. The Spanish Mass is primarily composed of immigrants between the ages of 18 and 25 who have come to the Southern United States from Central Mexico to harvest crops, such as chili peppers and watermelon. Many of the parishioners are either here temporarily to earn money for their families back home or came to the U.S. to establish a new life.

History

The founding of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Moultrie dates back to 1917. Construction of the church began under Father Walsh, and it was completed during the pastorate of Father Leo Kennan. The Franciscans arrived in 1953, and the church was transferred to the diocese in 1978. During the pastorate of Father Francis Barry this church was rebuilt and dedicated on November 28, 1982. The first Spanish Masses are believed to have begun in the late 1990s.

The members of the Latino congregation face special challenges, according to Father Michael H. Smith, the congregation’s priest. These challenges include the language barrier and the education hurdle. Some single mothers who left Mexico to seek a better life for their children in the United States struggle with loneliness and depression. Another challenge that is not uncommon is that married couples who have children in Mexico cannot see them once they enter the U.S., due to tight enforcement at the border. With new immigration legislation being debated both nationally and at the state level, many Latino Catholics in Moultrie face an uncertain future.

Description

The church holds 230 people and has a built-in “cry room” so families with young children can observe the service without disturbing anyone else. There is a parish hall located to the side of the church, which has five classrooms for Sunday school, and a two-story office complex across from the church which offers additional parking. Also there is a rectory for the priest next door to the church.

Activities and Schedule

Weekly Masses and other services are conducted in both English and Spanish.