St. Philip on a ‘mission of love to help the least among us’

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

As St. Catherine Church in McMinnville continues to work toward a new Worship and Learning Center to accommodate their overwhelming community growth, St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin will be the first of many parishes helping them reach that goal.

St. Philip is sponsoring a Bourbon Brothers Backyard Bash, featuring bourbon prizes and special live auction items, from 6:30-9 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 5, at 421 Murfreesboro Road, Franklin, TN, 37064. Attendees are asked to park at Pinkerton Park near Tinkerbell Playground.

“The Bourbon Brothers Backyard Bash is a festive outdoor evening to raise funds required for us to build a Worship and Learning center for this small community,” explained Gene Gillespie, leader of the fundraising effort for St. Catherine. “Our goal is that, in a year’s time, they are no longer left kneeling outside of a small mission parish’s chapel doors just to hear the words of the Gospel.

“Rather, they are in a worship hall celebrating Mass together as a community and building on their faith and friendships so they can have a vibrant parish to pass along to the next generation of Hispanic families,” he said. 

The event, which costs $150 per person, includes food, drinks, both alcohol and non-alcoholic, and live music. It also includes several door-prize drawings, featuring three-signed memorable bottles of aged bourbons – a Limestone Branch’s Yellowstone signed by Stephen B. Beam, a Russell’s Reserve 10 year signed by Jimmy Russell, and a Blanton Distilling Co. signed by Walker Buelher of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Vanderbilt University. There will also be a live auction for a Woodford Reserve Baccarat Crystal Decanter Edition, worth $1,700.

The event hosts are Berkeley Nance, Father Bala Showraiah, OFM, pastor of St. Catherine and former pastor of St. Philip, and the St. Philip Bourbon Brothers. 

“Bourbon Brothers of St. Philip was started by Father Bala to be a social fellowship of Catholic men. Bourbon is a common thread across most of us here in Tennessee, who grew up as adults cultivating a taste and appreciation of many exclusive bourbons,” Gillespie explained. “While initially the group started as a social time to gather and share fellowship, the Bourbon Brothers will always rise to the needs of others, be they parishioners or friends outside of St. Philip. They hold themselves accountable and continually donate their time, talents, and treasures in support of faith communities everywhere.

“Now, our attention has shifted to a small mission parish down in McMinnville, Tennessee. This parish is located in the agricultural heart of the nation’s largest nursery farms. Approximately two-thirds of this parish are Hispanic parishioners, and the growth of the parish is more than 300 percent in the past three years,” he continued. “The parish consists of those migrant workers, whose workday is determined much by weather conditions that cause the nurseries to close temporarily during those conditions, leaving the workers to seek other part-time employment. Yet, they continue to come to Mass and continue to give from their hearts both financially and as a volunteer of their time and talents.

“They spend their full Sunday at the church giving back to God. It’s beautiful, it’s inspiring, and it’s a time of reflection within your own heart,” Gillespie added. “Our message: we are a mission of love to help the least among us.”

Attendees of the event will also hear from Bishop J. Mark Spalding, Father Ed Steiner, pastor of St. Philip, and Father Showraiah.

The cost for the new Worship and Learning Center is approximately $1.5 million. With the work of St. Catherine parishioners and the help of the Diocese of Nashville, about $400,000 has already been raised. The Bourbon Brothers Backyard Bash is one of many upcoming fundraisers that parishes across the diocese will sponsor to help St. Catherine with this new project. 

For tickets or to donate, visit

“Your ‘gift of treasure’ will truly bring a roof for 600 parishioners, a wall to keep them safe from the elements, a pew for eight to sit down and pray, a floor that will lead them to the Eucharist, and a home for God to share his faith for multiple generations going forward.” 

Subscribe to our email list

Keep your finger on the pulse of Catholic life in Middle Tennessee by subscribing to the
weekday E-Register here.

* indicates required