SYLACAUGA, Ala. – On Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, those who Father Mac Paul Abraham ministered to and those whose lives he impacted helped to memorialize and remember him with a Sylacauga City Schools Foundation educational chair.
He was a man of great faith who made a difference in many lives in Talladega County, and not just among the Catholics. Dr. Joe Morton, who founded the foundation in 1988, gave a brief history of the priest’s life.
Abraham was born to a Syrian Jew father and a Lebanese Christian mother. He was raised as Methodist, but at the age 16 began to search for a religion that best suited his life. He studied Catholicism and became Catholic, attended Loyola’s Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1945. He was assigned to the Talladega County Santa Rosa Missions and founded three Catholic Churches – St. Jude in Sylacauga, Holy Name of Jesus in Childersburg, and St. Francis in Talladega. He ministered to all three church families until 1970 when he moved to Tuscaloosa. Father Abraham retired in 1978 and passed away in 1993.
Dr. Morton shared that the Abraham Chair was spearheaded by two of the five Spencer children who recently honored their parents, Frank and Dorothy Spencer, with the 50th Foundation Chair. The Spencers were big supporters of the values of education, faith, hard work, and mutual respect as was Abraham. The Reverend Robert Spencer and The Most Reverend Bishop Richard Spencer began the effort to raise the $25,000 and were quickly joined by many others. During the presentation, Dr. Morton, the Spencer brothers, Harry Heigl, Gary Greer, Margaret Morton, Dan Lucy, and others shared memories of Abraham.
“If one was in need, Father Abraham offered aid, regardless of one’s religious beliefs or even lack of a belief. His spiritual leadership nurtured generations of youth, and the Father Mac Paul Abraham Chair is a testament to how much he was loved, admired, and respected by those who grew with God under his leadership,” Dr. Morton said.
Jane Vaughn, president of the foundation, said Abraham was a remarkable man who impacted so many lives. She shared that in the 30 years since the foundation was formed, a total of $1.9 million had been raised, with $1.2 million spent on 1,141 grants to supplement the needs in classrooms in the system’s four schools. These grants collectively have affected over 357,000 students. The Sylacauga City Schools Foundation continues to strive to improve the quality of education for children by providing financial support to teachers and programs.