By Randy Patrick
The Rev. Christopher Allegra played such a major role in building the parish center for Holy Trinity Catholic Church that it seemed only fitting that part of the building be named for him.
So when Deacon Joe Dant pitched the idea of “Allegra Hall” to the people of the Fredericktown parish, they liked it. So did Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who will be speaking at the dedication on May 25.
“Most pastors, when they leave, we kind of have a big farewell dinner, and we never got to have that with him,” said Ann Mudd, a parishioner at Holy Trinity. The dedication of the parish center hall in honor of the deceased priest will take the place of that farewell dinner, she said. “It will, I think, be a great memorial. It’s our tribute to him.”
Allegra, whom everyone in the parish knew as “Father Chris,” died Oct. 21 in Louisville following a brief illness.
“When I came here, there was such a palpable feeling of mourning or grief still. It was such a shock to everyone,” said Dant, who became the pastoral administrator Nov. 1. “It happened so suddenly, and Archbishop Kurtz was in Rome for a synod of bishops at the time and couldn’t come back for the funeral.”
The deacon said the dedication will provide a sense of “closure” for the people of the church and for the archbishop as well.
Kurtz will preach at the 11 a.m. Mass that Sunday, and one of Fredericktown’s native sons, the Rev. Mark Spalding, will also participate.
Spalding, the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Louisville, conducted Allegra’s funeral Mass on Oct. 25 in the place of the archbishop.
Following the Mass, there will be a potluck dinner at the parish center, and Kurtz will dedicate the center’s hall — the gymnasium/cafeteria and foyer — as Allegra Hall.
“We like to look at it in our faith as sharing a meal at the table of the Lord, and then going over to the parish hall and sharing a meal as parishioners together,” Dant said.
There will be a plaque and a photograph of the late priest placed in the building, and a sign with Allegra’s name will be placed over the doorway to the building.
The name of the parish center itself, however, will remain Holy Trinity Parish Center, Dant said, because that’s what the people of the parish chose to name it.
Gayle Boone, Mudd’s sister, was the bookkeeper for the church at the time the parish was raising money for the construction. She said Father Chris took a great interest in building the parish center, and gave his time and money to the effort.
“This was like, every day he was involved,” she said.
According to the two sisters, Allegra was a much-loved priest.
“He just had a heart of gold,” Mudd said.
The door to his home was always open, and he didn’t mind people calling him any hour of the day or night. Even when he had a day off, he would be doing some kind of ministry, she said. He was indefatigable.
Boone said Allegra, who was from Boston, Mass., loved his community had intended to remain in the area after he retired.
According to Dant, Allegra was a Dominican and left the order and came to Kentucky to be a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville because he wanted to care for his parents, who were living at Nazareth. He served as pastor of St. Rose Church in Springfield from 1973 to 1993, and of St. Vincent de Paul Church in New Hope from 1993 to 1996.
He served Holy Trinity Church for 16 years and was also the pastor of Holy Rosary Church at Manton during that time. He also celebrated the Mass at the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.
Dant, who is a hospital chaplain in Marion County, has been handling pastoral and administrative responsibilities since Allegra died, and the Rev. Tom Clark, a retired priest, has been the sacramental moderator, in charge of all the priestly duties.
A new priest has not yet been chosen for the parish, but Dant said one should be by the time of the dedication.
“It’s kind of a celebration of the past, and certainly, by then, we’ll know who the new pastor’s going to be and we can look forward to the future,” he said.