History of Good Shepherd

In March 1984, a meeting of area priests, a representative of the bishop, and about eighty potential parishioners was held.  As a result, the Catholic community of Smithfield was formed as a mission of St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Suffolk.  Fr. Christian Haydinger of St. Mary’s took on pastoral responsibility for the new community.

Christ Episcopal Church in Smithfield graciously offered the use of its facilities for meetings and liturgy.  Our first Mass was celebrated there by Fr. Haydinger on July 21, 1984.

From the beginning, plans were made toward obtaining our own church.  By 1989, enough progress had been made that Rev. Thomas B. Nee, our second pastor, asked Bishop Sullivan, that we be named a diocesan parish.  The parish’s name, Good Shepherd, was chosen by the bishop from a list submitted by the parishioners.

A parcel of land near Benns Church had been given to us by the Kirk family, but by the time we were ready to build, newly enacted laws prevented us from proceeding.  Bishop Sullivan authorized our looking for another place to purchase, and that lead to our current site.  Ground was broken in February 1992 for the first phase of construction, the present building.

Less than 10 years later, the church community had grown to almost 200 families.  Planning began for an expansion of the church buildings, with the primary focus being a new sanctuary and expanded classrooms for the religious education program.  On July 18, 2004, Bishop Sullivan, Msgr. Thomas Caroluzza, Fr. Ernest Bulinda, Fr. Jun Balarote, Fr. Piotr Bialkowski, other parish leaders from around the diocese, and Rev. Gary Barker (from Christ Episcopal Church) joined the Good Shepherd family in celebrating the ground breaking for the expansion.

On June 26, 2005, Bishop Sullivan joined with the parish in dedicating the new sanctuary.  Today, we begin another phase of Good Shepherd, making our continuous growth in Isle of Wight.

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