presence here in Booneville began in 1961
with Father Charles Reiner, O.S.B.,
Gladys Mitchell and six Catholic
families. They met in homes or attended
Mass in Corinth or Saltillo. Eventually,
the Infant Jesus of Prague Catholic
Church was built four miles south of
town with the dedication services being
held on Sunday, April 29, 1962.
church began to grow as more families
moved to the Booneville area: the Fulper
family started a dairy farm; the
Buchberger family established Marathon
Cheese; the Lawyer family came here from
American Seating, which later became
In 1967, Sacred Heart Southern
Missions of Walls, MS. took on the
responsibility of serving the spiritual
and financial needs of the nine counties
in northeast Mississippi. Prentiss County
was served by Sacred Heart Southern
Missions until 2009.
Father George Pinger, S.C.J. became
the first full-time priest in 1977.
Father Pinger made his home in the back
of the church. Eventually a house was
purchased in Booneville which, to this
day, still serves as our Parish house.
In 1987, due to the shortage of
priests, Sisters from religious
communities began doing the day-to-day
duties with a priest coming for the
celebration of the Mass and Sacraments on
In the fall of 1992, plans were made
for a new church. Land was purchased in
Booneville on College Street across from Northeast
Mississippi Community College. At the
direction of the Bishop, this was to be
the location of the Catholic Church and
Catholic Student Center.
This new church was made possible by
Sacred Heart Southern Missions, a grant
from Marathon Cheese in Wisconsin, and
contributions both financially and
through service by parishioners. The
congregation moved to the new church
facility in December 1993 and a beautiful
dedication ceremony took place on April
10, 1994. The new church was named St.
Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
Father Tom Burns, SCJ served as
Sacramental Minister from July of 1993
until his retirement in March of 2009.
Upon Father Tom's retirement, Father
Richard Smith joined us as our new
Sacramental Minister. Sister Colette
Fahrner, SLW, Sister of the Living Word,
arrived in July, 2006 as our new Lay
Ecclesial Minister. She took the place of
Sister Dorothy Pashuta, who was with us
for nine years. In 2010, Sheila
Przesmicki became our Pastoral Minister.
In 2014, she was appointed Lay Ecclesial
Minister, and Father David Szatkowski,
SCJ was appointed Sacramental Minister.
Church membership continues to
steadily grow and members of the
congregation are proud of caring for the
present Church, Social Hall and grounds.
We dedicate our Infant Jesus of Prague
Memory wall to Ludie Pietruszkiewicz,
a convert to Catholicism, who joined
Infant Jesus of Prague, along with her
family, in the 1960s. Ludie was one of
the many people who served in several
ministries in the church, and after St.
Francis of Assisi was dedicated in 1994,
she wanted to ensure that Infant Jesus of
Prague was not forgotten. Especially in
an area where Catholics continue to be a
minority, Ludie wanted very much to
preserve HOW the Catholic Church came to
Prentiss County, and how hard those first
families worked to maintain a Catholic
We lost Ludie in February of 2012, but
her memory and presence lives on in the
prayers, work and mission we maintain
here at the parish of St. Francis of
Assisi Catholic Church and Student
Center. We have been richly blessed and
ask you to join us in thanking God for
graces received through all these years.