Saint Francis Of Assisi, Cartersville
Shortly before World War II, a mission church was established in Cartersville from the parish in Dalton. Father Edward Moriarty was the first priest to offer Mass in Cartersville on a regular basis. He is remembered especially for his early ecumenical work, which helped dispel some of the myths that surrounded Catholicism in the rural South of the day.
Initially, Mass was celebrated in a room in City Hall, and later, the church was moved to the second floor of the Shackleford Building.
Finally, in the 1940s a more or less permanent church was established over Young Brother's Pharmacy on Main Street. The pharmacy has a claim to fame as this site of the first large “Coke” advertisement which covered the side of the building that faced the railroad tracks. Members of the fledgling parish were elated to have their own church in spite of minor inconveniences such as summer heat and the passing of trains right outside the window. Parishioners from those days remember how the priest would have to suspend the Mass for a short while every time a train passed. These interruptions averaged once every 11 minutes, extending the Mass to an hour and a half.
Cartersville was part of a chain of mission churches served by the Redemptorist priests. Those priests lived in Dalton and from there served Fort Oglethorpe, Calhoun, Cartersville and Cedartown. The tiny churches in Caretersville, Calhoun and Cedartown were built with the help of the Diocese of Savannah and the Extension society. Each church had a tiny apartment attached so that the priest could spend a day or two when he came.
The Redemptorists surrendered their missions bit by bit. Cedartown became a parish in 1959 with a diocesan pastor, Fr. Donald Kiernan. Dalton was next. Calhoun and Cartersville were entrusted to the LaSalette priests from New England. The Redemptorists gave the last parish, Fr. Oglethorpe, back to the Archdiocese in the 90’s.
The LaSalette priests served at a time of remarkable change. I-75 passed through Calhoun and Cartersville and brought inevitable growth. What had been tiny, tiny parishes grew and grew. The LaSalettes led both Calhoun and Cartersville to newer, bigger facilities and ever expanding congregations. As the Latino migration arrived the LaSalettes welcomed them and began what continues to be a growing ministry. In both parishes the number of Latino Catholics is much larger and much younger than the Anglo population.
Growth always seems sudden. In the 60’s and 70’s St. Francis baptized less than a dozer persons a year. Confirmation and First Communion class rosters were single digits even when confirmation was only every other year! Now, in the second millennia, we baptize over a hundred a year and the number continues to grow. When the current multipurpose building was finished a dozen years ago all of those who regularly attended Mass here would fit in a single liturgy. Now, more than a thousand come weekly and it is time to build a permanent church.
If your travels bring you by please come and join us for Mass. We would love to have you. If you are looking to locate a little further out from the metro area this is a good community with good schools, good parks, and a great Catholic community!
7/12/2007 text revision by Father Daniel Stack, Pastor