All Souls Day 2009

Rt. Rev. Monsignor John Marion Prendergast

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By Mary Bellan Eidt

Rt. Rev. Monsignor John Marion Prendergast has the distinction of being the first native-born priest in the city of Natchez and in the diocese of Mississippi. He was born on January 30, l870, in Natchez where he was also ordained on October 24, 1894. His first assignment was at St. Mary Cathedral in Natchez. He also served as a military chaplain at Santiago, Cuba, during the Spanish American War.

He subsequently became rector of St. Paul's Church in Vicksburg where he received the titles of vicar general and domestic prelate. Vicksburgers recall frequently seeing Monsignor Prendergast riding throughout the city in his Buick automobile. It was in this Buick that he met his death on October 11, 194l.

Closely associated with the church, the Prendergast family donated the marble baptismal font to St. Mary Cathedral. The dedication plaque appears on the gate to the old baptistry. It was during Monsignor's tenure in Natchez that the Knights of Columbus Hall on State and Union Streets was purchased.

The Prendergast family lived at 107 South Rankin St. across from Memorial Park. Nellie Prendergast, Monsignor's sister, was a good friend of Della Goetz Hicks. Nellie gave Monsignor's baptismal socks to Della for her daughter, Elizabeth Hicks Eidt, whose son Edward was baptized in the socks. The socks, framed with a photo of Edward, are part of the family memorabilia.


Lithograph on stone - St. Mary Cathedral