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A warm welcome for Father Randy
Father Randy Mattox and Noah in the courtyard of St. Pius next to the fountain with St. Francis of Assisi - photo by Lisa Hetzel

St. Pius X Catholic Church recently held a reception for Fr. Randy Mattox and his sidekick, Noah.

The sociable pair transferred from Good Samaritan Parish in Ellijay. In Mattox‘s first facebook post to the parish, he said, "It is quite a change coming from the quiet, rural life of the mountains where we had only 275 families, to the large bustling community in Conyers! It will definitely present new challenges and new joys as well, and I am eager to get started!"

Mattox's first weekend was packed with celebrating five masses and meeting many of the 1900 registered families. There was also an opportunity to meet Fr. Randy's six year old golden retriever, Noah. In Ellijay, Noah helped as a greeter. At St. Pius, he charmed young and old, alike.
Leading such a large parish would be daunting if it were not for parochial vicar, Fr. Salomón Garcia, five deacons, one seminarian, lay ministers and an office staff.

Parishoners were pleased to find out about the connection between Fr. Randy and former pastor, Fr. John Kieran. The story goes way back.

Although Fr. Randy was raised Episcopalian, he said, "I was never really that active in the Episcopal church." At Emory, he majored in religion and considered the monastic life. After graduating, he worked as a mental health specialist at Charter Peachford in Atlanta.

Although his work kept him busy, he didn't feel satisfied. His supervisor, who just happened to be Catholic, suggested that he learn the "Hail Mary" prayer. Eventually, he became curious about the Catholic Church. During this time, he move to LaGrange to be near his family and started attending both the Episcopal and Catholic Church. Mattox said, "I was most concerned about leaving my father's faith."

Soon, he committed to going to mass at St. Peter's. "I noticed a sense of holiness. There was something different from my other experiences," said Mattox. Fr. John Kieran was the pastor and encouraged Mattox to pray about his decision. There is a year-long discernment program for anyone who is contemplating joining the Catholic Church, called RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). While Mattox was going through the program, he wrestled with his role in the life of the church. "I felt called to preach, said Mattox.

In 1994, he became Catholic and entered the seminary in Atlanta. He served as a seminarian at St. Mary's Catholic Church. In 2006, he became pastor at Good Samaritan Catholic Church in Ellijay.

After Fr. John's retirement this past month, Fr. Randy was assigned to St. Pius. Although Mattox misses his parishioners in Ellijay, he feels right at home at St. Pius.
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