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9/19/1976             Mass celebrated by Fr. Gregory' Putzer, SDS

10/31/1976          First official Mass celebrated

1/16/1977             St. Gregory's gains Mission status

Jan/Feb 1977       Fr. Gregory leaves

                                      Fr. Gerald Sirois & Fr. Don Lascot, both from the Salvatorian order, pastor the Mission

4/17/1977             First Easter Sunday Mass

5/29/1977             First May Crowning

6/5/1977                First Holy Communion Mass

10/15/1977          First Baptism

6/6/1979                Signing the papers for the sale of the Calvary Baptist Church and the parsonage to the

                                      Mission of St. Gregory's

1979-1984            Fr. Gary McGinnis, SDS serves as Pastor

1982                         St. Gregory attains Church status

1983                         Pews and an organ are purchased

1984-1996           Fr. Joseph Lubrano, SDS serves as Pastor

1986-87                 Several "make over " events at the church are performed by church members

1990                         Stained glass windows are installed

1996-2006           Fr. James Bretl. SDS serves as Pastor

1998                        Major renovation to the interior of the church

1999                        Half of a double wide mobile home is purchased and attached to

                                    Gerald Hall creating additional classrooms

2000                       Two pieces of property are purchased (houses on these lots)

2001                       Steeple and bell are installed and dedicated to the memory of Bill and Dottie Smith

                                   Final piece of property on our block is purchased. Two of the three houses are torn

                                   down. A lightening rod system is installed

2006                       Fr. David Cooney, SDS serves as Pastor

2007                       Last of the three houses is removed from the property.

2011/2012         A new Parish Center facility built for both social and education needs

                                  The education side was, as yet, unfinished

2014                      The Education side of the Parish Center was completed

Compiled from "The History of St. Gregory Mission" By: Dottie Smith

The first Catholic Mass in the history of Dekalb County was offered at 4pm, Sunday, September 19, 1976, at the Hitchin' Restaurant, Smithville, Tennessee.  Dave and Lynn Allen, owners of the restaurant, generously offered the use of their building.  There were 34 people in attendance.  Fr. Gregory Putzer, SDS, of St. Catherine's in McMinnville was the Celebrant.  After the Mass, open discussion regarding the feasibility of having weekly Masses in Smithville took place.  Many suggestions were forthcoming concerning a suitable place for the weekly masses.  Locating a central site was important as the future parishioners were scattered over a wide area of the county.  Until a more suitable building could be found, Bill Smith arranged for the Westinghouse Plant cafeteria to be transformed into a "church".

On September 29, 1976, Most Reverend James Neidergeses, Bishop of the Nashville Diocese, accompanied by Fr. Gregory, came to Smithville and met all the Catholic families in the area.  The Bishop explained that the future Masses for the time being would be called "Masses of Convenience".  If it was found the masses were well attended and convenient to the local Catholic population, a Mission Church might be established.  In order to learn how the business of operating such a facility was done, Bill and Dottie Smith were requested to attend monthly meetings of St. Catherine's Parish Council.  

A second discussion with the Bishop was held to decide on a name for the future Mission.  At first various names were suggested, all of which would have been suitable.  Then, almost as one, St. Gregory the Great was mentioned.  Before Fr. Gregory could voice an opinion, the vote was unanimous and the parish-to-be had a  name, but the Bishop summed up all of our feelings when he said, "It's been taken out of your hands Father, and so St. Gregory's it will be ",  When asked about the possibility of having weekly Masses, the Bishop replied, "Congratulations on your new endeavor.  May God look with favor upon it",  Thus the Mission of St. Gregory was launched. 

Mission status was not easy to come by.  Meetings in McMinnville, telephone calls and correspondence with the Bishop in Nashville and congregational meetings involving lengthy discussions concerning mission recognition were numerous.   Being the only Catholic parish in Dekalb County (of which Smithville is the County Seat), this active group of fifteen families were determined to make a success of the venture.

On Sunday, October 31, 1976, the first official weekly Mass was celebrated.

On Sunday, January 16, 1977, Fr. Gregory made the long awaited announcement.  St. Gregory's was officially a Mission.  The dream had suddenly become a reality.

The Bishop took time from his very busy schedule to come and celebrate the 1st Anniversary Mass with us on October 30, 1977.  Everyone was of the opinion that God must approve the steps we were taking because He was showering us with so many blessings. 

The time: April 15, 1979... Easter Sunday. Bill Smith announced, "For sale, one Calvary Baptist Church."  There was silence followed by pandemonium!  Was it possible that Mass would be celebrated in an actual "church building" instead of our makeshift home in the Westinghouse cafeteria?   Down to business talks took place and the Bishop gave his consent to purchase.  The Diocese would purchase the land, and the parish of St. Gregory's would assume the remaining debt.  By a vote of 100% the "dreamers" decided they could ill afford to lose such an opportunity.  It was a "go" from that night on.   St. Gregory's was going to have a permanent home.  The final papers were signed on Wednesday, June 6, 1979.

We rejoice today.  As the song says, "We've only just begun".   There are still mountains to be climbed, rivers to be crossed and forest to be cleared.  We will do it with Faith, prayers and God's help, for we have had an experience that very few people ever have... 
We built a parish.

Compiled from
"The History of St. Gregory Mission"
By: Dottie Smith


Our History

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