July 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. Rev. William Kantner was named first pastor and he began celebrating Mass in the gymnasium of Auburndale School, later named St. Benedict at Auburndale, and now named St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, across the street.

In 1988, the 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 a 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. In 1998, with the dedication of the Parish Life Center, the first of these components was accomplished. The second part, expansion of the church from 600 to approximately 940 seats, was completed in 2001. The final component of the master plan, the opening of a parish school, was achieved when St. Francis parish assumed operations of Grades K-8 of St. Benedict at Auburndale School in 2004. The parish purchased SBA’s existing campus, and the High School – which remained a diocesan school – moved to its new adjacent structure. A new building was added to the former SBA and renovations of the existing facilities were also undertaken.

Fr. Robert Marshall became the fourth pastor of the parish in June 2012. Being a strong proponent of continuing faith education, Fr. Marshall expanded the learning and enrichment opportunities at St. Francis, offering a number of Lifelong Faith Formation programs – for children, youth and adults, and sponsors opportunities for parishioners to meet and support one another in prayer and fellowship.

Rev. Carl Jude Hood became parochial administrator in July 2017, and was installed as the fifth pastor on December 3rd, 2017. Today, St. Francis of Assisi is the largest parish in the diocese with approximately 2700 registered families, and it continues to grow steadily. St. Francis of Assisi School has over 560 students and is the largest Catholic elementary school in the diocese. It was recognized in 2010 as a national “Blue Ribbon School.”  The parish has 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.