Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Recovering Our Past

Sparta Catholic Cemetery - photo by R. Egan

Over the last couple of years, I have had the privilege to work with a dedicated group of men and women on the restoration of a Catholic Cemetery in rural northeastern Georgia. The property, located about 2 hours east of Atlanta, also included a small chapel.

Dating from 1869, this was one of the first Catholic communities in this part of Georgia. The site was abandoned in the 19th century and for the most part forgotten. However, once its presence became known, a concerted effort was made to investigate the site and its history. Today, the land is cleared and a cross now adorns each of the grave sites.

For Catholic Georgians, this is a special place. It marks the beginning of the Catholic presence in north Georgia and being a Catholic in the deep south was not always an easy existence. Even as late as the 1960s and 70s, being Catholic in the south had a stigma associated with it, which affected ones ability to join clubs or participate in government. Today, the Archdiocese of Atlanta has become one of the most vibrant Catholic communities in the United States.

But it all started with a few families who chose to make their home in this area and bring their faith with them. It is fitting that they should not be forgotten.

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