March 21, 2018

About Our Parish

The 11-acre site of St. Francis of Assisi was purchased by the Diocese of Memphis in December, 1979.   At that time, it was considered “out in the country” but population in the area increased rapidly and in 1985, the parish was officially established.  In 2015, we are celebrating our thirtieth anniversary.  Rev. William Kantner was named first pastor and he began celebrating Mass in the gymnasium of Auburndale School across the street.  (Auburndale School became St. Benedict at Auburndale though the original school complex is now St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School.)

In 1988, Rev. James Pugh was named pastor and planning began for the building of a church.  Ground was broken in 1989 and construction began on the 20,000 square foot church and 60-foot bell tower.  The design blends traditional with modern.  The single level, Mediterranean style building is salmon pink brick with occasional horizontal stripes of wine and pale gray.  The east entrance leads to a courtyard with circular fountain.  The Church was formally dedicated in December, 1990.

In July of 1995, Msgr. Peter P. Buchignani was appointed pastor of St. Francis.  At the same time, the Cordova area began to experience major growth.  In 1995, the parish had slightly over 900 families.  Over the next ten years, the number of registered families grew to over 2000.  In early 1996, Msgr. Buchignani and the parish leadership developed a master plan that included three major components: planning and building of the Parish Life Center, expansion of the church from 600 to approximately 940 seats, and assuming governance and responsibility of the St. Benedict at Auburndale K-8 school.  The master plan was completed in August 2004, when St. Francis officially took over responsibility of the SBA K-8 elementary school.  A new building was added and renovations of existing facilities were undertaken.  In June of 2012, Rev. Robert Marshall was appointed pastor of St. Francis.

Today, St. Francis of Assisi parish is the largest parish in the Diocese of Memphis.  St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, with an enrollment of over 620 students, is the largest Catholic elementary school in the diocese.  In 2010, the United States Department of Education designated St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, recognizing the school as “Exemplary High Performing.”  The parish continues to grow steadily, with approximately 2730 families registered at present.  Lifelong Faith Formation is being emphasized with an enrollment of over 450 students in the Parish Religious Education program, an active Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program, and a variety of Adult Faith Formation offerings, including a series of sessions called “Forward in Faith.”