Included in this picture from 1984 is his Eminence James Francis Cardinal Stafford, who was at the time the bishop of the Diocese of Memphis.
In 1952, Fr. Edward O. Heymer was assigned to Tipton, Lauderdale, and Dyer counties. Each Sunday, Father Heymer would travel from Dyersburg to Covington to say Mass at the courthouse. At the request of the Catholics of Ripley, the first Mass was celebrated in the Ripley courthouse in September of 1952. Services were held each Sunday for the next two years, and in January of 1954 Father Heymer was granted permission by the Most Reverend William L. Adrian, Bishop of Tennessee, to build a church in Ripley. On September 28, 1954 Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago, and born Tennessean, dedicated Ave Maria Mission as well as St. Alphonsus Church in Covington. A contemporary design, English Church, Ave Maria can seat over 200 people. In honor of Mary, Mother of our Lord, Ave Maria Mission serves the people of Lauderdale County, as well as tourists and travelers.