May 6, 2018

Our History

Oak Ridge has a rich history in the United States

Since 1943 Saint Mary Parish has been a part of it!

Bishop Adrian of Nashville established Saint Mary Parish as a community of the Diocese of Nashville, with Father Joseph Siener as our first pastor, on August 22nd, 1943, and decreed the parochial boundaries on May 1st, 1945.  Parishioners constructed both our proto-church and our school in 1950. 

The Congregation of Saint Cecilia, a religious community founded in Nashville 1860 in the 800-year-old Dominican tradition, sent sisters to our parish during the summers to prepare our children for the sacraments of initiation, and took up residence here to staff our new school in 1950. 

The rectory for the priests was completed by Father Thomas Woodley in December of 1957.

Bishop Adrian dedicated the outdoor Peace Statue under the title “Our Lady of Oak Ridge” on October 12th, 1958, one week after the racial bombing at the high school in the county seat, Clinton. 

Father Woodley laid the cornerstone of the new church on May 13th, 1962, and Bishop Adrian dedicated the church under the title “Saint Mary Church” on October 11th, 1962. 

At its inception in 1950, our school adopted a policy of racial integration, and our parish led a series of forums dedicated to racial reconciliation in 1968.  Today, we take a proactive approach to welcoming poor immigrants into our parish, and to enrolling their children in our school.  Our parish has been active in the pro-life movement since the 1970s.  We’ve helped teach ethnic harmony to the children of Northern Ireland since the 1980s.  We’ve supported the spiritual and medical needs of our sister parish in Haiti since the 1990s.  And, our thrift store and food pantry both serve the material needs of many struggling neighbors in and around Oak Ridge.

As Christians, we are adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Mary.  We belong to the family of faith established 2000 years ago by Jesus Christ himself.  We believe this family includes the holy patriarchs and prophets of Israel, the holy apostles and martyrs of Christ, and other friends of Christ and men and women of good will who now faithfully await the resurrection of their bodies. 

As Saint Mary parishioners, we have served the spiritual needs of Oak Ridge since 1943.  From the day Bishop William Adrian sent Father Joseph Siener to offer Christ’s Sacrifice on a makeshift altar (a plank placed across two barrels!), to the opening of our school in the ‘50s and our church in ‘60s, we have received the mercy of Christ in His Word and Sacrament and offered His mercy to our neighbors. 

As Oak Ridgers, we have been here since 1943 with the arrival of Cecilia Klemski, and we were the first faith community to construct our own church.  We remain active in civic affairs, especially those pertaining to peace and justice. 

We receive the Lord’s mercy in the sacraments of baptism and reconciliation.  We celebrate the Lord’s mercy in the thanksgiving meal we call the “Holy Mass”.  In the Mass, we believe Christ is truly present: body, blood, soul and divinity.  We imitate the Lord’s mercy in our performance of the Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy and the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy.  We fast from the attractions and distractions of this world on Fridays and throughout Lent in commemoration of Our Lord’s suffering and death on the Cross.  We feast on Sundays and throughout Eastertide in celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection from the dead.  We gather as a church community under the leadership of our bishop, and as parish communities under the leadership of priests and deacons.

We are Catholics.  We are Oak Ridgers.  We are Saint Mary Parish.  And, we look forward to getting to know you.

We Call Upon the Mother of Christ,
Patroness of Oak Ridge
Pray, Our Lady of Oak Ridge, for us all.
Pray for humanity:
for those who suffer poverty and injustice,
violence and hatred, terror and war.
Help us to contemplate with the Holy Rosary
the mysteries of Christ who is our lasting peace,
so that we may all commit ourselves
to a persevering dedication to peace:
in our hearts and homes,
among neighbors and among nations.
Look with special attention
upon this city of Oak Ridge,
and encourage us to invite all our searching neighbors,
into the mercy and peace of your Son.
Guide us to become the face of our Heavenly Christ,
as we serve others here on earth.
Pray for us, Our Lady of Oak Ridge,
now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.