Memphis Diocese postpones 50th Anniversary Masses to spring

The Diocese of Memphis has delayed a Mass to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding until the spring because of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. On Nov. 18, 1970, Pope Paul VI announced the formation of the Diocese of Memphis, carving out the 21 counties west of the Tennessee River from the Diocese of Nashville, which originally covered the entire state of Tennessee.

On Jan. 6, 1971, the official proclamation creating the diocese was read and its first bishop, Carroll T. Dozier, was ordained and installed during a special Mass at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis.

Bishop David Talley had scheduled two Masses – on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Memphis and on Thursday, Jan. 7, at St. Mary’s Church in Jackson – to mark the diocese’s 50th anniversary.

“However, due to the recent spike with the COVID-19 pandemic throughout our area and recognizing that our protocols would limit the number of people being able to attend these monumental celebrations, Bishop Talley and the 50th Anniversary Committee, led by Vicar General Father (Keith) Stewart, decided to postpone the Jan. 6-7 Mass celebrations until late spring,” according to a statement by the diocese. “By then, we hope and pray the COVID-19 numbers will have significantly decreased.” The new dates for the 50th anniversary Masses are 7 p.m. May 26 at the Cathedral and 7 p.m. May 27 at St. Mary’s in Jackson.

The year-long celebration of the diocese’s 50th anniversary began on Nov. 29, with special prayers recited at Masses at all the parishes in the diocese.

During the year, there will be several events celebrating the anniversary, including special concerts and a Eucharistic Congress to be held Oct. 8-9 at the Renasant Center in downtown Memphis.