SWEET SPRINGS (WVDN) – The oldest standing Catholic church in West Virginia will be the setting for the annual Mass of the Feast of the Assumption Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. with an ice cream social on the grounds following the mass.
The church will be open at 4 p.m. for tours of the building, which was constructed as early as 1839, and the public is invited.
Father James Conyers, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo in White Sulphur Springs and St. Catherine of Siena of Ronceverte will officiate with other priests from nearby Virginia and as far away as the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C., are expected to assist.
Music for the mass will be provided by the “Hymns and Hers,” the choir of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Ronceverte.
Built as early as 1839, the church served as a family church for the late Governor John Floyd of Virginia whose daughters attended Catholic schools in Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Va., and converted to the Catholic religion, along with their mother.
The Floyd family extended their participation in the Catholic religion to Wytheville, Va., among other parts of the south.
Priests serving Sweet Springs in the 1800s also rode horseback to outlying areas as far away as Summersville, Lewisburg, and southwestern Virginia establishing outpost churches in each area.
The church was built of brick by enslaved people on the Lynnside Plantation, owned by the Lewis and Floyd family, and the enslaved people also attended the masses in the church.
For additional information on the Aug. 15 tours, mass, and ice cream social, telephone the office of the Catholic Churches of the Greenbrier Valley at 304-536-1813 or the Greenbrier Valley Council 8689 Knights of Columbus at 304-645-1373.
The public is invited to the church events. The church is located on VA/WV 311 at its intersection with WV 3 in Sweet Springs. From the East, take the Callahan Exit in Virginia from I 64 and travel VA 159/311 south to less than one mile into WV to the church; From West, travel I-64 to the Crows, Va., Exit and VA/WV 311 to Sweet Springs. From the south, take US 219 North to downtown Union and WV 3 east 19 miles to Sweet Springs.