Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church
440 St. Martins Road, Flaherty, KY 40175
Photos by Joe Sipes
The following article published in The Record, September 18, 2008 used by permission.
Church in Flaherty celebrates its past
Record Assistant Editor
Standing-room-only crowd honors St. Martin of Tours’ 160 years in Meade Co.
FLAHERTY, Ky. — On a Sunday that will long be remembered, St. Martin of Tours Church here celebrated its 160 years of history. And a standing-room-only crowd of about 800 people braved the remnants of a hurricane to take part in the celebration.
The anniversary Mass was originally to be held in the parish cemetery, the location of the first church built on those grounds in 1848. (To provide some historical perspective, consider this: The first St. Martin of Tours Church was competed a baker’s dozen years before the start of the Civil War.)
Father Anthony Chandler, pastor, and other church leaders knew that what was left of Hurricane Ike was rushing up the Ohio Valley — a growing growl of wind and a dark and not-too-distant gathering of clouds was persuasive — and the Mass was moved to the church.
It was a prescient decision. Though the tempest delayed its onset until well into the Mass, the lights flickered from time to time. The resulting candle-lit moments added to the reverence of the event and softly revealed the beauty of the church and its altar.
Father Chandler told those gathered in every seat and standing in every crook and corner of the church that their parish serves as a testimony to “160 years of faith, of spreading the faith, of service to the community and service to one another.”
“When you think about the decades, the history represented here, you think, ‘How many baptisms, how many sacraments have been celebrated on these grounds?’ ” he said. What has happened there for decades, he said, represents “our love for each other.”
“This love makes us truly Christian, truly Catholic,” he noted.
It is a love exemplified for all of us — for all the world — by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, Father Chandler said.
“His death on the cross is the center of our Christian faith,” he explained. “It was a painful, shameful way to die and represented the ultimate stripping from him of all human decency and dignity.”
Some people at the time viewed the death of Jesus as the failure of his mission on earth, the pastor noted, and “his disciples took a long time to fully understand what the cross meant for them.”
“It was a manifestation of God’s love for us,” he added. “Jesus emptied himself, gave his total self so that we might have life. Though totally innocent, he died as a common criminal.”
But his death represented the victory of Jesus’ life on earth, Father Chandler said. “We recognize the love Jesus Christ had for us in that moment,” he said, “so that others may say of us, ‘They truly are the sons and daughters of he who is the Christ.’ ”
The lights flickered and went dark for a few moments at the end of Mass — one of a half-dozen or so times it happened as noon approached. But the men and women of the church weren’t daunted by the weather and went right ahead with their plans to serve 800 to 1,000 meals.
“We’re cooking about 300 chickens and 200 hot dogs, and I don’t know how many hamburgers,” said Bob Bruner, a long time member of the parish.
Members of the St. Teresa Council of the Knights of Columbus were responsible for the barbecue grills preparing meat outside the church. And one of them, Danny Board, said they were using tobacco sticks as fuel for the cookers.
The women of the church were crowded into the kitchen area of what had once been the parish school cafeteria. They’d been cooking since 7 o’clock that morning; in fact, some had begun making cole slaw the night before.
“And desserts, my goodness, I think we’ll have more desserts than we’ll have people,” said one of the cooks, Mookie Gerkins. “We’re expecting 800 or more, and we’ve been happily shocked by all the families that have contributed. It’s all about family here. This church is one big family.”
Among the women huddled in the kitchen cooking beans — baked and green — and all manner of other side dishes, were Maryann Lancaster, Lucy Joslin, Sue Lancaster, Dorothy Jean Robbins, Darla Sipes, Mendy Hobbs, Macy Masden, Lee Ann Bruner, Diane Lancaster, Marly Pike, May Gavin, Kendra Vowels and Yolanda Hobbs.
Sure enough, the wind finally turned off the lights for the remainder of the celebration before 1 p.m., but the meals were served, and the parish celebrated its history and its faith — just as parishioners had done before the church even had electricity.
Site of the original Church built in 1848
Photo by Sherri Sheeran
Photos by Sherri Sheeran
Photo by Joe Sipes Photo by Sherri Sheeran
Much Too Windy for an outdoor Mass
Return to Home Page