St. Theresa Parish History
Lois Gager and Eniko Swanick
Fr. Stefan Migac, Pastor
In 1939, the Fathers of the Precious Blood, from Carthagena, Ohio, established: a Catholic Church in Crewe, Virginia; missions in Blackstone and Farmville; and took over serving the mission in Meherrin. The first pastor, Father Marcellus Fortman, assisted by Father Isadore McCarthy, traveled to Farmville from Crewe to celebrate Mass in a room at the Hotel Prince Edward for the first two years. At the time, there were only 20 Catholics in the area. As the membership grew, including more students from the local all-female college (now Longwood University), it became apparent that this location was no longer adequate. Longwood kindly offered the use of French Auditorium for Sunday Masses.
In the late 1940’s, Father McCarthy, the pastor, traveled to other parishes to preach for funds to build a permanent building. Businesses were contacted for free or discounted materials. One large donor asked that the church be named for St. Therese of Lisieux (an appropriate name for a mission church). On May 25, 1951, the Rt. Reverend Michael J. Cannon, acting for the Bishop Ireton of Richmond, officiated at the dedication of St. Theresa Church, the present church in Farmville, which consisted of the current commons area and office space.
Priests at the time lived in a small room above the current parish office. This was a fine arrangement for visiting priests. In 1964, the pastor and Newman Club Chaplain, Father Carl Reikowsky was assigned to resident pastor at St. Theresa’s. From 1967 to 1968, the Reverend Cornelius Fenton, C.Pp.S., served as pastor until the Reverend Urban Dumminger, C.Pp.S. arrived in 1968. Faterh Dumminger, who served longest s resident pastor (August 1968 to June 1978), was at St. Theresa’s when the rectory final moved to Oak Street in the 1970’s. Father Dumminger was the last of the C.Pp.S. Order priests to serve at St. Theresa’s. In the summer of 1978, priests from the Diocese of Richmond began pastorship of the parish. Under the administration of The Fathers of the Precious Blood, St. Theresa’s parish had lost its mission status. Both Order and diocesan priests at St. Theresa’s then served other are missions. After Father Dumminger left St. Theresa’s in June of 1978, Father Thomas Summers served at St. Theresa’s from 1978 to 1979.
One of the first diocesan priests, Father Robert McEleney, had the distinction of serving as pastor twice, from June 1979 to June 1987 and from November 1999 to June 2000. He continued to assist when needed. As the parish continued to grow, it was apparent that a parish center was needed and plans began under Father McEleney. The building on Buffalo Street was completed under the direction of Father Robert Spencer in 1988. Father James C. Ditty stepped in as interim pastor in the early part of the 1990’s.
In January 1997, work began on our current worship area addition under the direction of Father Joseph Metzger, III. The new addition was dedicated in June 1998. The parish recently celebrated its 50th anniversary on Buffalo Street with Father Richard Mooney as pastor in 2001. After Father Mooney’s reassignment in 2002, Father Carl DeSouza served as pastor until retirement in 2007. Father James M. Glass, OSB became pastor of the newly formed Central Virginia Catholic Cluster until his departure in May 2010. In the interim, Father Joseph Wamala served as interim pastor until the arrival of Father Anthony W. Morris in September 2010. Father Joseph Wamala was reassigned to St. Francis Assisi in Staunton. Serving as parochial vicar during this time was Father Emmanel DeLeon until his departure in 2012. Father Paul A. Kkonde was assigned to St. Theresa as parochial vicar in 2012. After Father Morris’ reassignment to Portsmouth Catholic Cluster, Father Stefan Migac arrived in 2015 and is currently serving as pastor of the Central Virginia Catholic Cluster.
The Church in Farmville has grown from a handful of faithful, attending Mass in a hotel room to 300+ families with strong campus ministries at both Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College. We have grown from a mission church with visiting priests to a parish with two full-time priests and two deacons serving the spiritual needs of the parishes of the Central Virginia Catholic Cluster.
List of Pastors and Service Dates:
1939 – 1940 – Father Marcellus Fortman
Late 1940 – 1964 – Father Isadore McCarthy
1964 – 1967 – Father Carl Reikowsky
1967 – 1968 – Reverend Cornelius Fenton C.Pp.S.
1968 – June 1978 – Reverend Urban Dumminger, C.Pp.S
1978 – 1979 – Father Thomas Summers
1979 – June 1987 – Father Robert McEleney
1987 – 1990 – Father Robert Spenser, Father Robert Krenik, and Father James C. Ditty
1993 – 1997 – Father Joseph Metzger, III
1999 – 2000 – Father Robert McEleney
2001 – 2002 – Father Richard Mooney
2002 – 2007 – Father Carl DeSouza
2007 – 2010 – Father James M. Glass, OSB
2010 – Interim Pastor – Father Joseph Wamala
2010 – 2015 – Father Anthony W. Morris
2015 to Present Father Stefan Migac