St. Elizabeth Church anniversary Saturday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 2004

This weekend, Sept. 25, St. Elizabeth Catholic Church of Greenville will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary. Parishioners have been busy in recent days sprucing up the grounds of the century-old church, preparing it for Saturday's celebration.

The church suffered only minor damage (the loss of some shingles) in the recent storm and organizers say everything is on schedule for the celebration.

A special 5 p.m. service is planned for Saturday, with a celebration dinner to follow in the church’s parish hall. Father Gary Williams, currently priest at St. Elizabeth, will be co-celebrant of the service with Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb of Mobile serving as the principal celebrant. St. Elizabeth parishioner Dr. Ed McCraw is slated to present highlights from the church’s century of history.

A great impact

One of those Father Gary Williams believes has had made one of the most significant contributions to the church is a former priest now serving in Gulf Shores. "The Reverend Monsignor Robert W. Fulton was the priest here who perhaps had the greatest impact on Saint Elizabeth. He had the parish hall and church rectory built while he served here. He also completely re-wired the church himself. He was certainly one of the foremost priests in our history, in my opinion," said Father Gary, who has served at Saint Elizabeth since June 2002.

Jesuit priest Father DeBeurne supervised the construction of Saint Elizabeth, which began in 1902.

‘The Greenville Advocate’ was very complimentary of the location chosen for the city’s newest house of worship, calling it &uot;one of the best lots on Commerce St.&uot;

The Bishop of Mobile, E.P. Allen, laid the cornerstone for the 1904 structure.

During the 1970s and Father William Fulton's tenure as priest, a rectory and a parish hall were added to St. Elizabeth, with extensive restoration work completed on the church itself.

Today the church building is in splendid form, a much-admired ‘Main Street’ landmark.

A labor of love

Before it opened its doors a century ago, plenty of old-fashioned labor, genuine artistry and craftsmanship went into the building of the church.

Mules and wagons made a 12-mile trek from Cedar Creek to haul the sand used in construction. A well on the building’s west side provided water used to mix mortar for its 14-inch thick brick walls (later covered in the ‘pebble toss’ stucco-like finish we see today). St. Elizabeth’s floor was composed of finest virgin pine from Florala. Especially prized are its beautiful stained glass windows, imported from Germany, which are considered today considered irreplaceable.

In the process of preparing for the celebration, Dr. McCraw and other parishioners have discovered new and fascinating information about the history of St. Elizabeth, which will be shared at the Saturday mass service.

"We have discovered some interesting new facts and some information we had in the church history that was in error, so we will be updating our history to share with our parishioners this weekend," said St. Elizabeth parishioner John Acreman.