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St. Andrew Catholic Church

Sparta, Tennessee
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(A history of St. Andrew Catholic Church through words and pictures)



Many thanks to the following St. Andrew contributors:


Bill & Puddin Scheffer

Jeanie & Kenny Guidara

Heidi Holland



The links included in the text below will open another page with more information.



The Outline


It was 1903.  The first Catholics, Thomas and Jane Smith, along with other Scots, arrived in White County from Glascow, Scotland, to work in the coal mines in Eastland, Tennessee.  There were no Catholic churches in the area or within a reasonable "horse riding" distance.  So Masses were being conducted on an irregular basis in private homes until 1950 when St. Charles Mission Church in Eastland was established.  When the mines closed, the number of parishioners diminished, and the mission church was closed.  Over the next 25 years, more Catholics moved into the area, but it wasn’t until 1976 that the need for a more local Catholic church arose.  With 21 White County families attending St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Cookeville, a plan was formulated to establish a local parish for them.


With the assistance of the Salvatorian priests (Salvatorian Archives) working in Cookeville, the first Mass in White County was held at the Sparta Country Club on January 23, 1977.  Subsequent masses were held at both the country club and the First National Bank.  On October 30, 1978, the Catholic community in Sparta was canonically constituted the Mission of St. Andrew by Bishop James D. Niedergeses.


On October 15, 1979, three acres of land were purchased, and on December 26, 1979, the first church, a modular building, was erected.  The church was first used in April of 1980, and on June 22, 1980, the St. Andrew Mission was dedicated.  Finally, on January 1, 1983, St. Andrew Parish was constituted.




Initiated by a letter to Fr. Don Loskot on January 15, 1985, a request to build an actual church was sent to Bishop Niedergeses.  The approved sanctuary was added during April and May of 1986. 



As the congregation expanded, more space was required.  In a letter to the bishop dated April 9, 1987, Fr. Don Loskot requested permission to purchase two more acres of land adjoining the church property.  Bishop Niedergeses approved the request, and in February 1990, the land was purchased.


On March 9, 1992, on behalf of Fr. Gerald Sirois and Fr. Mike Bigley, the parish requested financial assistance to add classrooms and a Fellowship Hall to the existing church.  At that time, there were 42 parishioners (families/individuals).  In a May 28, 1992 letter from The Catholic Extension Society, Bishop Niedergeses was given a $19,500 grant to help with the addition, the total cost of which was $81,942.


On July 12, 1992, ground breaking was held for the Fellowship Hall and Religious Education Center.  It was dedicated by Bishop Edward V. Kmiec in February of 1993.


In a June 1, 1995 letter from Bishop Kmiec, Fr. Sirois was given approval to pave the church parking lot for $9,200 with a $6,000 mission loan.


Over the next few years, priests from St. Thomas continued to support St. Andrew.  But in March 1998, Fr. Fred Schmit was appointed Administrator of the St. Andrew Mission. 


With a priest now on site, more Catholics started attending St. Andrew.  An ever increasing Catholic community warranted a further addition, a more permanent church.  Bishop Kmiec presided over the ground breaking on March 26, 2000 and construction started soon afterwards.  At the same time, the sanctuary was remodeled into the rectory and classrooms.




Ground breaking for the new church.




The new church




Bishop Kmiec dedicated the new church on November 18, 2001.



During his 11 years with the parish, Fr. Fred Schmit oversaw the building of the new church, dedicated in November of 2001, the rectory, the first half of the Columbarium and the Bell Tower.


Fr. Fred Schmit retired on June 30, 2009, and the day Fr. Fred left, Fr. John Pantuso walked in the door. He ensured that legitimate Masses were said until he retired on January 5, 2015 and moved out of state.


Fr. Steve Wolf was our next priest, arriving on January 5, 2015, assigned as "Administrator" for the parish. In the short six months he was here, he not only made himself available to minister to the needs of the parishioners and conduct weekend and weekday Masses, but also ran two retreats. One was based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the other was based on the readings of Mark and Peter. He left on June 30, 2015.


Fr. Kevin Dowling was assigned Pastor of St. Andrew Parish by Bishop Choby, effective August 1, 2015.


Detailed information links: Bishop Niedergeses; Bishop Kmiec; Fr. Don Loskot; Fr. Gerald Sirois; Fr. Mike Bigley; Fr. Fred Schmit; Fr. John Pantuso; Fr. Steve Wolf, Fr. Kevin Dowling.


These are older church directories some of which did not have any date in them,

so the year is just a close guess!



1982 Church Directory


1990 Church Directory


 1993 Church Directory


1997 Church Directory


2002 Church Directory



Click here for Church Events 



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