Trinity Missions was born in Alabama a hundred years ago. Father Thomas Judge, a Vincentian priest who founded the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, was assigned to the eastern part of the state in 1915. What he found in the towns were mill workers living in the most deplorable conditions. In the countryside, sharecroppers barely eked out a living on their small plots of land. Father Judge encountered prejudice against Catholics, founded on misconceptions about the Church and fear of the unfamiliar.
With his customary zeal, he went about his missionary work among the people in Alabama, taking every opportunity to preach, both in formal church settings and more informally whenever a situation allowed. He encouraged non-practicing Catholics to return to the sacraments. With those of other faiths, he tried to dispel their myths about Catholicism. He remained within the social and cultural norms of the day, but challenged them by directing his efforts to poor white mill workers and black sharecroppers.
The “southern heritage” left us by Fr. Judge is as vital today as it was in his time. The way it is expressed has necessarily changed with the times, but the Southern missions remain a productive field for our special brand of missionary work: preservation of the faith with a special focus on developing a missionary spirit in the laity. Today, our missionaries are serving the South in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.