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					The History of the Church of Incarnation-
     A Story of Love, Hope and Faith


               Catholic Presence Develops in Collierville

        The Church of the Incarnation was formed in 1978 when 105
families living in the Collierville area left Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish
in Germantown to begin Incarnation Parish. In the 1960s and 1970s,
Catholics from LaGrange, Rossville, Eads, North Mississippi and
Collierville drove to Our Lady of Perpetual Help for Sunday Mass. When a
priest was needed in these areas for sicknesses, deaths, marriages or other
religious matters, Father Ned Elliot from Our Lady of Perpetual Help
ministered to their needs. Bishop Carroll Dozier authorized Sister Elaine
Wicks to begin an outreach program in Fayette County to provide clothing
and medical attention for the poor and needy. This outreach program was
supported by Our Lady of Perpetual Help and later by the Church of the

        The Collierville Ministerial Association was active with a food
pantry and multi-denominational services for Lent and other special
occasions. Father Ned Elliot as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was
called upon to be member and serve as secretary of the Collierville
Ministerial Association for five years representing the Catholics in
Collierville. As a member of the Ministerial Association, Father Elliott
encouraged Catholic families in Collierville to come together on a regular
basis for friendship and Bible Study. Thirty-five families began to
congregate weekly in each other’s homes. As there were too many people
for one home, families were divided into groups of 7 to 10. The groups met
each week on different nights for a Pot Luck Supper and Bible Study.
Curriculum guides from the diocese were used. These 35 families grew to be
close friends and worked as a unit on every project leading to the building of
a parish and a church.

       As the Catholic presence in Germantown and Collierville grew
Bishop Dozier realized that Our Lady of Perpetual Help would not be able to
continue servicing the needs of all of the Catholics in the area East of
Germantown. On December 14, 1977, the Bishop purchased 10.0 acres on
Bray Station Road from the Albertine-McCrory Realty Company for Fifty-
Six Thousand Dollars to be used for a new parish at a future date. In the fall

of 1978 it was decided by Bishop Carroll Dozier that Father Elliot had more
than enough parishioners and needs to keep him and an associate pastor busy
in Germantown.


                      Father Peter Buchignani 1978 – 1979

   Father Peter Buchignani was responsible for the next step in our church’s
history. In the late fall of 1978, Bishop Dozier and Father Buchignani
discussed whether there were sufficient families for a weekly liturgy to be
held in Collierville. Father Elliot invited Father Buchignani to Our Lady of
Perpetual Help one Sunday, and Father Buchignani made the announcement
from the pulpit telling all those from Collierville to come out there. Father
Elliot determined that he had 105 families of his congregation that actually
resided in or around Collierville.

     Incarnation now had its founding families, but no place in which to
celebrate their liturgies. The only place that was large enough was the
Collierville Funeral Home, since all churches in Collierville were being used
on Sunday mornings. Bishop Dozier, Father Buchignani and Peggy Fiveash,
a life long resident of Collierville who was very eager to see a Catholic
Church come there, approached Carl Rutledge, manager of the funeral home
on December 13, 1978. After talking with some other ministers in town, Carl
thought it would be a great idea. On December 17, 1978, the first liturgy was
celebrated in Collierville at 9:30 AM in the funeral home. In the years that
our parishioners attended mass in the funeral home, they would transport
patients from the Collierville nursing home next door to the funeral home for
Sunday mass. It did not matter whether the patients were Catholic or not.
Everyone was welcome. From the very beginning our parishioners reached
out to people in their community in any way they could be of service. The
early parishioners were forever grateful for all the generosity and warmth of
fellow Christians and Clergy who were not of the Catholic faith. Mayor
Herman Wright Cox and Carl Rutledge and the Board of Alderman were
praised for their solicitude and encouragement during these years.

     The first pastor was Reverend Peter Buchignani who also had
responsibilities at the diocesan offices. Unfortunately Father Buchignani
could not spend full time with his parishioners because of his other
commitments. In the short time he spent as the first pastor of the Church of
Incarnation, Father Buchignani recounted, “We started off with one Mass,
but not too long after that we determined that, because of the size of the
chapel, we needed two. I found the people were immediately involved. I had
been working full-time in the Chancery, but I moved to an apartment
supplied by the people of Collierville. The people were very eager, very
warm, with a real community spirit.” In 1979, Father Buchignani was
replaced as pastor by Reverend John Atkinson.


                       Father John Atkinson 1979 – 1980

   Father Atkinson had recently completed work with the parishioners of
Church of the Ascension as they built their church. He now helped the newly
formed parish in Collierville to continue to strengthen its community
identity. At this time daily Mass was celebrated in a tiny living-dining room
setting at Father Atkinson’s home, first on Burley Road and then on Hunters
Retreat. One of the first community projects our church undertook was
initiated by Father Atkinson. The parish sponsored a Vietnamese family with
small children, who were brought to Collierville and set up in a mobile
home. Parishioners would sign up to volunteer to help this family with
various needs. Often our parishioners drove this family on errands or to the
Le Bonheur hospital for doctor visits. Father Atkinson initiated the Easter
Sunrise Service on the Square with other religions. He also joined the 35
close knit early families of the Church in their weekly Pot Luck and Bible
Studies. Father Atkinson celebrated the first two Baptisms in our parish in
January of 1979. Benjamin Keith Tucker and Josh Fowler were baptized in
the funeral home. In 1980, Father Atkinson returned to the Church of St.
Michael in Memphis, his home parish.


                       Father James Pugh 1980 - 1987

 Bishop Dozier next appointed Reverend James Pugh as pastor of Church of
Incarnation. Father Pugh came to us from St. John Parish in Memphis. A
home was rented on West Poplar where access to the funeral home and
other Collierville churches was convenient. Daily Mass was celebrated in the
dining room of the rectory which had been converted into a chapel.

The Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the chapel. Po Beasley was in
charge of the first Ministry to the sick. She visited sick parishioners in the
hospital or in their home and brought them Communion. The Ministry to the
Sick continues to be an important ministry in our church.

  The parish formed its first Parish Council and a parish philosophy of four
specific objectives:
   1. To celebrate the divine liturgy
   2. To educate adults and children in the Word of God
   3. To grow together in the fellowship of Christ with one another
   4. To provide living quarters for our pastor and administrative offices for
       our parish

   It was not long before our parish needs began to multiply. In the early
eighties, Ned Turner was appointed our first deacon. The funeral home,
always available on Sundays, was not available at other needed times. Soon
several ministers within Collierville were providing outreach to their new
Catholic friends. Saturday evening Mass was celebrated at the United
Methodist Church on the Town Square. Mary Lee Morton recalls the first
Easter Vigil in the Sanctuary on the Square as being very beautiful. Holy
day masses were celebrated at St. Andrews Episcopal Church on the corner
of Walnut and Mulberry Streets. Christmas Eve mass was celebrated in the
old Christian Church on the corner of Poplar and Main Street. These
churches, as well as the living rooms of many parishioners, were used for
various special liturgies and meetings over the months to come.

   Parish religious education classes were held in the Presbyterian Church
on the corner of Poplar and Peterson Lake Road each Thursday afternoon
and evening. Sister Mary Della Quinn who was in charge of parish religious
education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help first organized the program for our

church. Audrey Bradham and Sharon Guthrey were the first PRE directors
followed by Cherry Fowler. Sister James Grace, a long time associate of
Father Pugh’s, took Cherry’s place as PRE director in 1985. In the first year
of PRE in 1979, there were about 50 students enrolled in grades K-12.

                                                     The PRE children put
                                                     on a Nativity Play at the
                                                     Presbyterian Church in
                                                     December 1983.

    Father Pugh initiated the first Incarnation choir. The first choir members
were Peggy Fiveash, Eileen Busby, Dottie and Bill Moore, Larry and
Florence Bendt, Gary and Judi Harper, David Dierkes and Elmer
Scheidhauer. Aaron Foster was the organist. Choir practices were held in the
St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Walnut each Tuesday evening. Before the
church was built, the choir sang only at the mass on Saturday night in the
Sanctuary on the Square. Sometimes Father Pugh also sang with the choir
and even came down from the altar at times to join the choir in song.The
Methodist Choir and the Incarnation Choir often sang together at
Ecumenical Services, most notably at Thanksgiving and Easter sunrise
service. Father Pugh later hired Greg Cardelli as our church organist who
served in this capacity for four years.

     There was a Women’s Club from the beginning of our parish which
later became known as the Ladies Guild. In the Spring of 1980 Mary
Frances Mensi invited all the women of the parish to her home for lunch.
The Women’s Club was organized at this luncheon. In the beginning the
Women’s Club made the altar linens for the masses. Open to all women of
the parish, the Ladies Guild remains active in supporting the needs of our
parish and community. The Ladies Guild always sold Cotton Candy on the
Square for the Fair on the Square. They hosted a Mother-Daughter breakfast
and a Father-Son breakfast as well as many more activities. Later the Ladies
Guild started the Breakfast with Santa.

      Father Pugh always held a yearly picnic for the altar boys at the end of
the school year which took place at the home of Anthony and Marie Bertasi.
He would present them with a special gift at this time in gratitude for their
service to Incarnation.

                                                     Father Pugh gives
                                                    instruction to the Altar
                                                    Boys in the Funeral
                                                    Home in October of

    Father Pugh soon discovered that there would have to be a major fund-
raising effort if a church building was to become a reality for the new parish.
The first annual Fall and Christmas Bazaar was held in the VFW club on
Center Street by the parishioners of the Church of the Incarnation with
proceeds going toward the Building Fund. Three very successful Bazaars
were held at the VFW in the Fall of 1981, 1982 and 1983. Mary Frances
Mensi and Jo Ann Mersenski co-hosted the Bazaar the first two years, while
Ann Grashot and Mary Frances co-hosted the third Bazaar. The first year
$11,000.00 was raised. The second year our parish raised $15,000.00 and the
third year Incarnation raised over $20,000.00. All the proceeds were profit
because all the materials had been donated.

                                                  Father Pugh talking with
                                                  Jo Ann Mersenski at the
                                                  Incarnation Bazaar held at
                                                  the VFW. Marie Bertasi is
                                                  in the background wearing
                                                  one of the many aprons she
                                                  made for the Bazaar.

  The annual Bazaars were indeed a parish-wide effort. Father Pugh was a
hands-on priest and loved to be involved in all the church activities,
especially the Bazaars. He worked diligently along with the members of the
parish in creating many kinds of crafts to sell. Larry and Florence Bendt
owned a kiln which was used to create many ceramics. The ET statues were
one of Father Pugh’s favorite ceramics that were sold at the Bazaar.
Everything was handmade and handcrafted by members of our parish. Lynn
Doyle Florist donated all their leftover florist items which our parish
members used to create many floral arrangements and crafts. Jo Ann
Mersenski taught members to do counted cross stitch for the Bazaar and
Jack and Ann Ferry made many wooden crafts. Home baked items were also
a big seller. All the crafts were made in parish members’ homes. The parish
members worked for months on all these crafts. Father Pugh’s friends, the
Irish Travellers, came out and very generously supported the Bazaars while
Father Pugh was our parish priest. Father was the spiritual advisor for the
Irish Travellers in Memphis. The Irish Travellers comprise a group of
closely knit relatives and friends who enjoy traveling and working together
as a way of life.

  The annual Fall Bazaars continued to be held for a number of years after
our church was completed being held in the Fellowship Hall. Two more very
successful Bazaars raising well over $20,000.00 took place in 1984 and
1985. Gene Stengel and Ann Grashot took on the next two years co-hosting
the Bazaar. The Bazaars attracted a large following and people lined up at
the church door hours before the opening. Gene even had his two boys spend
the night before in the Fellowship Hall to guard the merchandise. A car
raffle was held one year. The local Oldsmobile Dealer sold Incarnation a car
at cost, but this project did not prove to be as profitable for all the effort put
into selling all the tickets as the Bazaar itself. A hand made quilt was raffled
another year. Peggy Hill initiated this project. She and some other
parishioners worked diligently for a year making the quilt. Coming together
making all the crafts was an excellent bonding experience for all the
parishioners involved. Then the character of the Bazaars gradually began to
change over the next few years to more ready-made items and private vender
booths which did not prove to be as successful.

    In addition to the regular offertory a special collection was started for the
building fund and parishioners were encouraged to make generous
donations. Father Pugh sought to have parishioners make donations of pews,
altar linens, the altar, the stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross,
vestments and items that would be needed in the new church. The Parish
also held Carport Sales to raise money for the building fund. Two successful
Las Vegas Nights were held before the church was built in a Warehouse off
Chaney Road and Hwy 72. After the church was completed, family Bingo
Nights, which proved to be very popular, replaced the Las Vegas Nights.
Started by Carol and Dick Sackett, the Parish Bingo nights continued until
State Laws were enacted that made Bingo illegal in 1987. Father Pugh also
made arrangements for a wall with plaques to be included in the new church.
People were encouraged to donate in memory of deceased loved ones.
Many parishioners were acknowledged for their gifts on the plaques now
located at the entry to the church.

    The next step in making a church building a reality was to select an
architect. The parish chose Mr. Wade Daniel Brewer. On November 20,
1983, five hundred people gathered and participated in ground-breaking
ceremonies, including the newly appointed Bishop J. Francis Stafford. He
commended the parishioners on their efforts and urged them to continue in
their sacred mission.

    The church building rose from ten acres of farmland on Bray Station
Road. The main sanctuary was designed so that no person sat more than
seven rows from the altar. The sanctuary’s brick and natural red cedar
provide the traditional, yet modern atmosphere. The original facility
included a chapel for daily Mass, a reconciliation room, a narthex suitable
for fellowship before and after liturgies, a kitchen, a fellowship hall with
connecting classrooms and an attached two-bedroom rectory with church
offices. Gene Stengel noted that wood was used for the interior of our
original church, especially the ceiling, because wood induces a warmer
atmosphere than other materials. The first members of our church wanted
their church to be homey. Larry Bendt was unhappy with the way the
bricklayers were laying the brick in the sanctuary, and he took the job over
himself. A nine-rank Wicks pipe organ complemented the beauty of the
parish’s worship

     On March 26, 1984, Bishop Stafford with Bishop Dozier as an honored
guest, dedicated the church. Mary Frances Mensi was asked by Father Pugh
to be the chairperson for this special event. She enlisted several members of
the Parish to help her including Mary Lee Morton and Marie Bertasi. Several
nights of activities were held. There was the Dedication Mass which
included all the members of our Church and friends along with the Bishops
                                       and priests from the Diocese and an
                                       Ecumenical Night, inviting all the
                                       clergy from other churches in
                                       Collierville and the City Officials
                                       including Carl Rutledge who was
                                       highly praised. Cookies for both
                                       receptions were made by members of
                                       the parish and were served with
                                       Strawberry Banana punch. There was
                                       also a Youth Night during this
                                       dedication week. At this time there
                                       were 400 parishioners or 168 families at

     The church was a blessing but brought with it several significant
expenses, namely a large note, insurance payments and utility bills. Father
Pugh told the parishioners they would need to give more in the collection or
the heat would be turned off. Father Pugh called upon the Irish Travellers
once again. They began coming to mass and donating to our collections
which helped meet expenses until the parish membership grew large enough
to cover our expenses.

    The first Baptism in the new church was Patrick Louis Pieri, on April 8 th,
l984. The first Communion was celebrated in one group in the Spring of
1984. Father Pugh presented each child making the sacrament with a white
ceramic chalice, hand made by Florence and Larry Bendt. Father Pugh held
the first May Crowning in May of 1984. Anna Marie Scheidhauer from the
Eighth Grade Confirmation class was appointed to crown the Virgin Mary.
The first Confirmation took place on May 22nd, 1984, with Bishop Buechlin
officiating. The Irish Travellers had the first wedding in our new church.
Michael Kearney and Denise Snapp were married on May 26,1984. The first
parishioner’s wedding was on October 13th, 1984, with the wedding of Carol
and Dan LaGraize. The first funeral was Cecile D. Seng in November, 1984.

                                                        In the early days of our
                                                  parish, a Men’s Club was
                                                  established where even non-
                                                  Catholic husbands were
                                                  invited to join. Then in
                                                  1984, the Knights of
                                                  Columbus Council 8826
                                                  was chartered at Incarnation.
                                                  Pete Shea was the first
                                                  Grand Knight of our
Chrissy and Michael Garcia with Father Pugh
in the new narthex of Incarnation

There were 35 Charter Members, which is the charter requirement. The
Knights at Incarnation have always been a mainstay of our parish, actively
participating in all aspects of parish life. A few of their projects include the
Tootsie Roll drive for the mentally retarded, the Police and Firemen Awards
Dinner, participation in the Collierville Relay for Life Cancer Drive, Work
Days for Mother Teresa’s Shelter for homeless mothers and their children.,
maintenance work days for Holy Names Parish, the Incarnation Youth Free
Throw and the K of C Annual Golf Tournament.

       The first Incarnation directory was printed in 1985. Father Pugh states
the philosophy of our church in the directory. He wrote, “Sacred Scripture
tells us that we are the Body of Christ in the world; we do not always fully
understand our calling, but we live by faith, trusting our Lord to deepen our
awareness of that calling each day. As the People of God we play at least
four roles here in Collierville: Community, Celebration, Ministry and

     Many Youth organizations were established at our church during the
eighties and are still very active today. Barbara and John Meehan, along
with some other couples, started the first High School Youth Group in 1984.
They met in the Fellowship Hall on Sunday nights and sometimes had to
meet in homes because of lack of space at church. Elmer Scheidhaur\er
coached softball in the summer against other parish Youth Groups in the
Diocese. The Junior High Group was formed in 1986 by Vicky Goodin who

led it for five years. Later the Junior High Group changed their name to
B.A.S.I.C. which stands for Brothers And Sisters In Christ, following the
footsteps of Christ. All 6 th, 7th and 8th graders are welcome. Boy Scout Troop
331 was established in the early eighties Charles Galbraith was instrumental
in working with the scouts at Incarnation.

      The Adult Choir has always brought forth a most moving performance.
Peggy Pera took Greg Cardelli’s place as organist in the early eighties and
led the Incarnation Choir for many years. The Adult Choir sings at the 10:30
Mass and at other special liturgies. Cantors lead the singing at all the other

     Father took part in every aspect of the new church, from the
preplanning, the fundraisers, the building, the ministries and the people. He
gave his heart and soul to everything he did, and he inspired everyone else to
do the same. This period of Incarnation, the Father Pugh years, was a very
special one and will always be remembered with fondness by his


                       Monsignor William J. Kleiser 1987 - 1991

   Father Pugh left
Incarnation in 1987
in the capable hands
of Reverend
William J. Kleiser.
Sister James Grace
followed Father
Pugh and Peggy
Fiveash was
appointed PRE
director. Peggy was
the first paid PRE
Director receiving a     Baptism of Lane LaChappelle by Monsignor Kleiser

stipend of $30.00 per month. At the time of Father Kleiser’s installation as
pastor of Incarnation, he said that his plans were to help the church retire its
building debt, expand facilities for religious instruction and perhaps start a

school. Father Kleiser was dearly loved by his parishioners. He became a
Monsignor around 1989. Monsignor Kleiser was a quiet man who was much
disciplined in saving money. His sermons were often short, but to the point.
He always left his parishioners with much food for thought.

     The new Fellowship Hall provided a place for many family and church
functions. There was an annual New Years Eve Party sponsored by the
Knights. John Meehan became famous for showing up at midnight dressed
in a diaper with a bow in his hair and a big pacifier in his mouth. Then there
was Super Bowl Sunday. The men gathered in the Fellowship Hall to watch
bowl games, while children played and the women socialized. Paul Marconi
and Paul Galluzzi hosted an annual Italian night for the Knights of
Columbus, complete with checkered tablecloths, candles and a fantastic
Italian meal with overflowing wine. Mike Zwirlein and Don Goodin began
hosting an annual German night wearing traditional German outfits called
Lederhosen and leading everyone in the German song, Schnitzelbank. The
Knights also sponsored an annual Valentine’s Dance. Sweetheart pictures
were made as people walked into the dance. The parish occasionally held pot
luck dinners in the Fellowship Hall, while the Youth Group held a Fish Fry
on every Friday night during Lent each year which still continues today. In
the early days John Meehan provided all the fish with the Knights of
Columbus frying the fish. Tom McCann picked up donuts, coffee and juice
every Sunday before the eight o’clock mass and the congregation would
mingle in the family life center after the masses. When Tom couldn’t get the
donuts he made arrangements for one of the eight o’clock families to pickup
the supplies at the Mega market.

                                                CRS Hawaiian Night in the
                                                Fellowship Hall

   Dick and Tibby Kilp joined Incarnation in 1986, when they moved to
Collierville. Immediately they jumped in and got involved in the parish.
Tibby introduced the Candlelight Living Rosary to our parish in 1987.
Margie Hayden and Tibby discovered the Mother Teresa Shelter in
downtown Memphis and started asking the Ladies Guild members to help
them provide, food, clothing and blankets for the Shelter. As a result our
parish has been actively involved in providing needs for the Mother Teresa
Shelter since 1987. Today 24 women from our parish help provide needs for
the Shelter four days per month. Dick and Tibby Kilp along with Stanley
and Dorothy Rybczk, Louis and Bettye Luchessi, Florence and Larry Bendt
and Norbert and Dorothy Schexnayder had been meeting in each other’s
homes to play cards. Then in 1988, they started the CRS Group at the
Church of the Incarnation.

    Deacon Charles Wells was assigned deacon at Incarnation in January of
1987 and remained in this capacity until 2003. He was RCIA Coordinator
during his interim and gave Baptismal Instructions to parents, desiring the
sacrament of Baptism for their child. Deacon Wells also preached on a
monthly basis and performed Baptisms and Weddings.

                                             Confirmation Class of 1988 with
                                            Bishop Buchlein, Monsignor
                                            Kleiser and Deacon Wells.

    Tom and Noreen Ford joined our parish around 1988 when they moved
to Collierville. For the first year they continued their catering and decorating
ministry at the Holy Spirit Parish where they previously were members.
Then Father Kleiser asked them if they could serve in that capacity for our
church. Right away they took on the overwhelming task of catering at all our
church receptions, decorating the church on Christmas and Easter, and
providing flowers for the altar each week.

   Helping Hands was first begun by Pam Carlin in the middle or late
eighties. There was a need to help families and parishioners in our parish
during times of sickness or deaths. If someone needed a ride to the doctor, or
help with food for a family while there was a sickness in the family or when
someone died and food was needed after the funeral, Helping Hands delivers
with a network of parishioner volunteers. Emergency babysitting is also

   A Food Pantry has always been in existence for those in need in and
around our parish community. When the supply is low parishioners are
asked to help re-stock the pantry. Parishioners bring sacks of goods at the
Thanksgiving Eve mass each year.

      Several Girl Scout Troops and a Cub Scout Pack as well as athletic
programs were started in our parish. Mike Zwerlein and Dave Schmidt
began the Incarnation sports program in 1987 with basketball teams. Before
our church had a gym they played against other Collierville Church teams in
their gyms and also used the Junior High gym (now the Collierville High

     Peggy Hill initiated the first Vacation Bible School at our church in
1987, which has been held every year since and has proven to be an
overwhelming success. A group for young children was started called Pray
and Play by Sue Maurer in the late eighties, but lasted only a few years.

   The Catholic Church always welcomes new members through the Rite of
Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Weekly sessions are held at
Incarnation from September through Easter for anyone (Catholic or non-
Catholic) who would like to know more about the Catholic faith and have a
better understanding of Who Jesus Christ is and what the Church teaches.

     Miles Merwin and Chuck Sandell organized the first parish picnic in
1988 held at the Luchessi Family Farm north of Collierville. There was a
cook out, swimming and games for the entire family. Jim and Doe Morey
became the High School Youth Directors in 1988 and served for four years.
They initiated the Living Stations, which is presented several times to our
parish during the Lenten season.

                             Monsignor Kleiser’s plan to help retire the
                           building debt became a reality in June of 1991.
                           The parish under his watchful stewardship was
                           able to completely retire the building debt, which
                           was one of Monsignor Kleiser’s final
                           accomplishments at Incarnation. He served as our
                           parish priest from 1987 until 1991. A new priest,
                           John Aiello, was assigned to our parish for a short
                           time to assist Father. Father John especially
                           enjoyed working with the youth of the parish.

Jack and Ann Ferry renewing
Their wedding vows with
Monsignor Kleiser on their 40th
 wedding anniversary in 1990


                   Father William R. Kantner 1991 - 2001

      In July of 1991, there were 294 registered families. Reverend William
R. Kantner assumed the responsibilities of pastor for the Church of the
Incarnation. On Sunday, October 13, 1991, the parishioners of the Church of
the Incarnation celebrated the close of the first phase I of the parish’s
history. In a joint ceremony, Father Kantner was installed as pastor by
Bishop Daniel M. Buechlein, OSB,D.D. and the mortgage for the building
debt was burned.

    Father Kantner realized the need to purchase additional property. On
October 31, 1991, Bishop Daniel Buechlein purchased the home and five
acres of real property located at 390 Bray Station Road directly north of the
church for $245,000.00. The decision was made to embark on Phase II of
Incarnation’s history. The new home was designated for immediate use as
the rectory, and church offices. The existing rectory building was converted
into much needed classroom and meeting space. It was renamed the Queen
of Peace Hall.

   In 1992 Peggy Fiveash stepped down as PRE director and Anna
Cunningham took her place for one year, followed by Roseanne Hembree in
1993. Another attempt at a fall festival was held in the early nineties. It was
called the Festival of Festivals and lasted for two days. A group of about 12
Incarnation Teens and youth ministers traveled by bus to Denver, Colorado
for World Youth Day in 1993, along with other Catholic youth from the
Diocese. Tom Isosue, a former member of Incarnation Teens began
coaching the youth softball team in 1994. Father DeVries became Father
Kantner’s assistant in August of 1995. Father DeVries headed up a
successful parish picnic at Suggs Park in the summer of 1996. He left our
parish in November of 1996 for a new assignment.

                                                   As of July 1,1994 our
                                                church included 624
                                                registered families with an
                                                additional 70 families not
                                                registered attending, which
                                                was an over one hundred
                                                percent increase from July
                                                1992.. On April 23, 1994, a
                                                joint meeting of the Parish
                                                Advisory Council and Parish
                                                Finance Committee met to
  Father Kantner and Deacon Wells
 Administering First Holy Communion

select a building committee with the purpose of studying the possibility of
adding on to our present sanctuary and building a Family Life Center. In
response to a September 1994 parish survey, the parish advisory council and
finance committee formed a building committee composed from the resumes
of interested parishioners. The building committee’s ten members were
evenly split between men and women with a variety of ages represented.

   The church then launched a fund-raising drive, Call to Grow, to raise the
necessary monies mandated by the Memphis Catholic Diocese. After
amassing that portion of the total $4.25 million price tag and hiring the
Brewer architect firm once again, the building committee spent about five
months creating a master site plan. Seeking worship and educational space
before amenities, the committee and architects designed a “life center” with
a gymnasium and more than forty classrooms.

   The Holy Family Life Center was completed and dedicated in 1998. It
houses our Elementary School, Mother’s Day Out and Preschool Program
and the Parish Religious Education program. The gymnasium serves as a
temporary worship space for the largest Sunday Mass at 10:30 AM, as well
as many youth, school and parish activities. The Parish Religious Education
program currently serves over 600 children. In Phase II of the Building Plans
Father Kantner initially had planned also to add onto the present sanctuary.
For awhile, weddings were discouraged in the Sanctuary in anticipation of
the sanctuary addition, but the plans were laid to rest when Father Kantner
became ill over an extended period of time.

    With the new addition came even larger utility bills. On one Sunday,
Father Kantner took ten minutes at each of the services to talk about our
skyrocketing air conditioning bills. He implored everyone to make sure they
closed doors behind them and not to touch the thermostat. Only he and the
custodian were to touch the thermostat located on the altar. During the next
Sunday mass one parishioner slipped over to the thermostat to adjust the air
That parishioner obviously had missed last week’s sermon. Father did not
say a word.

    Several new ministries developed in 1997. Tibby Kilp and Tom Richie
asked Father Kantner if our parish could start a First Friday Adoration. The
Adoration was first held from 9:00 AM until 7:00PM with Benediction.

    The Silver Foxes was started by Ron and Cynthia Scharf and Dick Kilp .
The Silver Foxes consists of about a dozen retired men from the Knights of
Columbus in our parish who help about a dozen Special Ed teens from
Collierville High School for about an hour and a half each Wednesday
during the school year in their workshop class. They help the boys one on
one to learn about various woodworking tools and to build all kinds of
things out of wood, such as birdhouses and marionettes.

      A third community ministry was begun by Carol Giles in September of
that year, Respect Life. This group is very active in making the parish and
community aware of the Right to Life at all stages.

     Jim Cosgrove created the Children’s Choir in 1997. He served in this
capacity until he moved away from our parish in 1999. Albert Burk became
the organist and the Adult Choir director in 1999, and took on the added
responsibility of the Children’s Choir too. He split the Children’s Choir into
                                             two groups, the Youth Choir
                                             and Teen Choir.

                                                     In September of 2003, the
                                               two Choirs were given over to
                                               Fran Thorne who broke them
                                               into three groups. First through
                                               third grade children make up the
                                               Children Choir now. Fourth
                                               through Sixth grade children
                                               comprise the Youth Choir and
                                               Seventh through Twelfth grade
                                               teens are included in the Teen
Choir. Fran leads all three choirs in separate practices each week. Pat Monz
is Fran’s accompanist. The Children’s Choir and Youth Choir sing together
one Sunday per month at the 10:30 Mass. The Teen Choir sings on the third
Saturday of the month at the 5:00 Mass. The Choirs also sing on special
occasions and holy days.

                                             Miles Merwin joined Deacon
                                           Wells as a second deacon in our
                                           church in March of 2000. Deacon
                                           Miles was a newly ordained
                                           deacon, having studied for three
                                           years and then being ordained at
                                           the Cathedral. Every three years a
                                           new Deacon class is started. An
                                           active Mother’s Day Out and
                                           Preschool program began in the
Father Robert and FatherKantner

Spring of 2000. Nan Raffanti is the first and present director. Father Robert
Marshall became our associate pastor in the Summer of 2000. Incarnation
was his first assignment as he was newly ordained earlier in the year.

                                            Incarnation School opened in the
                                           Fall of 2000. A special mass was
                                           concelebrated for the occasion by
                                           Father Kantner, Father Robert,
                                           Deacon Miles Merwin and Deacon
                                           Charles Wells.

   The school sprung from a need in east Shelby county for a strong Catholic
educational institution. First year enrollment was 46 student in grades K-3.
One more grade was added each year. In its 4 th year, 2003-2004, Incarnation
serves 172 children in the pre-K through 6th grade. Next year a 7th grade will
be added and finally an 8 th grade will be added in the 2005-2006 school year.
The goal is to have two sections of each grade, pre-K through 8th grade.
Plans for expansion of the school campus are currently under study, as the
school plays an important part in attracting people to our church. Karen
Stimart is the Principal. Beginning in the Spring of 2001, Incarnation School
began holding an annual Garage Sale to raise money for the school. Every
year it has been a parish wide effort and has been proven very successful.

  Father Kantner exerted much effort in pushing our parish toward growth
and expansion. He accomplished much in guiding our parish at a time of
rapid growth. He was an eloquent speaker. We always came away from his
homilies with an important lesson. Father always gave special recognition in
front of the congregation to the altar boys and later girls too, when it
was their first time to serve. Father Kantner returned to his hometown in

    Our Parish was assisted by several priests during the nineties in addition
to our parish priest Father Kantner. There were Father Richard Mickey and
Father Dan Moore who were in residence in 1993-1994, Father Mickey
Stewart, Father James Fischer, Father Daryl Combs, Father Carl Hood,
Father Richard Cortese, Monsignor John Batson and Father Ned Elliott.

               Father William Parham 2001 - Present

Father Parham at
Retirement Party for Sally
McCarver, Secretary at

  Father William Parham
became our pastor in 2001.
Father Parham frequently
invites spiritual speakers
to our church for our
parish members. He also initiated the Pastor’s Bible Study for which Father
Parham offers periodic Bible study classes during the year. This has brought
much spiritual enrichment to our church. In 2002, Father extended the
Adoration hours on First Friday to twenty-four hours. Father Parham is a
friendly pastor who likes to socialize and get to know all the members of his

                                                              Father Parham
                                                blessing the pets at
                                                Incarnation School on the
                                                feast of St. Francis of Assisi

   Incarnation endeavors to reach out to community on a ongoing basis. A
Spanish Mass was incorporated in 2001. The third Sunday at the noon mass
was designated as the Spanish mass. Father Marshall or Father Cortese often
celebrated the Spanish Mass. Father Parham is the primary celebrant now.
English as a second language classes are currently taught each week at
Incarnation. Margaret Saenz heads this project.

   The opportunity to buy more property arose in 2002. On April 19, 2002,
Bishop Terry Steib purchased the home and five acres north of and adjoining
the church property for $582,000.00. The home on this new land purchase is
now currently the rectory of the Incarnation parish. The former rectory next
door is now the Parish Ministry House where Scripture classes, RCIA and
various groups meet. The church offices are now located in Queen of Peace
Hall. Father Wayne Arnold succeeded Father Marshall as our associate
pastor in 2002. Father Robert Marshall was assigned to a church in
Humboldt, TN. The Teen Choir has traveled twice to Father Robert’s
church. A large group of our Incarnation Teens attended the World Youth
Day in Canada in 2002.

                                                      Father Arnold
                                                      communion at an
                                                      Incarnation School

   With the population of Collierville growing by leaps and bounds, the
parishioners of Church of Incarnation now make up 11% of the people in
Collierville. In January of 2003 a new Capital Campaign, Our Future in
Faith, headed by John Barrios, was initiated to begin raising funds for a new
1200 seat sanctuary with the initial cost being estimated at $4,500.000.00.
Earlier plans had been to make an addition to the present sanctuary, but the
committee determined that modifying the existing building would not give
enough space. As the committee has worked on plans for a new church it
was also decided that the school is running out of space and portable
classrooms will be needed next year. With this in mind, plans have been
revised to include additional classroom space for the school. When
completed, we will have the largest Catholic sanctuary in West Tennessee.
The present church will be retained as a chapel for daily mass and various
school masses. This campaign represented an opportunity for every member
of Incarnation to participate in the existing and necessary project.

                            Our church continually adds new ministries
                           as new parish needs arise. The Parish Nurses
                           Ministry was initiated by Mary Beth Trouy.
                           One Sunday per month, volunteer nurses offer
                           Blood Pressure Checks after mass. In the Fall
                           of 2003, the first community Health Fair was
                           held which proved to be quite successful.
                           Mary Beth also heads the newly formed Grief
                           Ministry. The Rosary for Healing is a new
Deacon Merwin distributing ministery led by Dale Welch.
  Ashes on Ash Wednesday.

    Project Outreach is still in the works. Clothes, food staples, toiletries and
school supplies are collected each month and distributed among the poor in
Fayette County. At Christmas time an Angel Tree stands in the Narthex
decorated with paper angels. Each angel identifies the person’s age, gender
and item they would lied to have for Christmas. Parishioners are invited to
take an angel and replace it with the wrapped item. These are then delivered
to the needy in time for Christmas. An added ministry of Project Outreach
started in the fall of 2003 involves teaching children to read one on one.
Volunteers go to the school in Fayette County on Fridays.

      Incarnation now represents a strong political presence in Collierville. In
the Spring of 2003, Linda Kerley, a member of Incarnation was reelected as
mayor of Collierville. Two members of our church also were elected to the
Board of Alderman- Justin Mitchell and Maureen Fraser. Catholics have a
come a long way from the early days in Collierville before there was even
talk of a church in this community.

     A large endeavor was undertaken to help raise money for the church
and school building programs with the successful three days Fall Festival in
2003. Barry Burns undertook the project, which took place over Halloween
weekend. The Festival started with mass on Friday night. It included retail
booths, bands, rides for kids and adults, game booths sponsored by the grade
school classes.

                                         Mike Ostien and Dick Kilp posing
                                         at the Knights of Columbus Annual
                                         Golf Tournament, one of their
                                         biggest fundraisers .

   Martha Drennan became the new PRE director in 2003. She is also in
charge of First Communion, Confirmation, First Reconciliation, RCIA and
Adult Faith Formation. Due to the growing number of child abuse cases
reported nationwide, Virtus training is now required of all personnel and
volunteers who work with children in our diocese and parish. Our parish has
been busy holding training meetings for Protecting God’s Children, Child
Sex Abuse Prevention. On Ash Wednesday, February 25 th, 2004, a record
number of parishioners attended one of the three masses offered that day.
The morning and noon masses which were held in the Church were full. The
evening mass which was held in the Gym was attended by over 900
parishioners. The Our Faith in Future Campaign officially ended on
February 29th, 2004. After a long hard struggle, we have come very close to
our goal of three and a half million.

                                                  Incarnation Students
                                                  walking into the
                                                  Sanctuary for Thursday
                                                  morning mass.

    Preparations for the 25th Anniversary celebration in March of 2004 are
also being made. An eight day extravaganza is planned. Barbara Meehan and
Paul and Cleo Long are co-chairing the event. There are plans for a Trivia
Night, Dedication Mass, Rosary Night, Parish Dinner, Parish Reception and
Media Presentation.

                                                  Carol and Tom Iosue with
                                                  Barbara Meehan in the
                                                  Narthex after mass
                                                  promoting the Trivia
                                                  Night for the Silver
                                                  Anniversary Celebration.

    This silver anniversary celebration represents over 25 years of
Incarnation’s presence in the Collierville community. It also signifies the
time, talent and treasure given by so many of our dedicated parishioners, too
numerous to mention in this church history. We regret that we could not
include the names of all the parishioners who have served so unselfishly and
untiringly. We are aware that there have been many acts of service, love and
generosity performed by many parishioners that have not been
acknowledged in these pages. Their sacrifices have made significant
contributions to the success of the Incarnation community. We trust that
even if your good works have not been recognized here that you can take
comfort in the knowledge that God knows of your acts of love. We look
forward to continued growth and fellowship in the future. Incarnation is
truly the epitome of “Love in the Past, Hope in the Present and Faith in the

                                                       Written with Love By,
                                                     Judy and John Masserano
                                                         and Vicky Goodin