Bishop Richard Oliver Gerow

Gerow 1967
Born: May 3, 1885 – Mobile
Ordained a Priest for Mobile: June 5, 1909
Ordained a Bishop: Oct. 15, 1924
Retired: 1966 from active ministry
Died: Dec. 20, 1976
Episcopal Motto: In You, O Lord, I Have Hoped

Father Richard Oliver Gerow of Mobile was appointed the seventh Bishop of Natchez by Pope Pius XI. He served for 42 years and saw a tremendous growth in the Catholic Church in Mississippi. Priests grew in number from 63 to 222, and churches increased from 108 to 159.

His administration included the years of the 1927 Mississippi River Flood, Great Depression, World War II, the Korean conflict, and the Civil Rights Movement, including the tragic murder of Medgar Evers in Jackson.

Gerow Natchez Coat001

Bishop Gerow oversaw the renovation of the cathedral sanctuary in celebration of the centennial of the Diocese in 1937. He was especially interested in ecumenism and is remembered for his Christian stand in the first days of school integration. He was a consummate historian and because of him we have a vast diocesan archive that is indexed in great detail. He was also an avid photographer and documented many church activities and events throughout the Diocese.

In 1948, the diocesan offices were moved to Jackson from Natchez.=

In 1957 the diocese was renamed the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson. That same year, Joseph Bernard Brunini was ordained a Bishop and named Auxiliary Bishop of Natchez-Jackson, with St. Peter the Apostle Church being elevated to Co-Cathedral of the Diocese.

Bishop Brunini attended all of the sessions of the Second Vatican Council in Rome beginning under Pope John XXIII on October 11, 1962, and closing under Pope Paul VI on December 8, 1965.

Bishop Gerow was the first bishop to retire in office in 1966.