The little chapel that could

Published 2:51 pm Friday, May 25, 2012

The sign affixed just to the left of the entrance lists the names of Jimmy Tierce, Alvin Thibodeaux, William Frazier and Allie Gentry. The vivid memories of four individuals who lost their lives to cancer inspire Carol Tierce in many ways.

“They all died from cancer and they were all extremely talented people,” Tierce said. “Allie Gentry was a fantastic lady. She made quite an impression and taught many children. William Frazier, he’s from the coast, he was quite an athlete. He was also the mascot for the Arkansas Razorbacks.”

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Thibodeaux started the first concrete plant in Demopolis and Jimmy Tierce ran an auto parts shop from the time he was 19. Additionally, the quartet also served as the jumping off point for the dedication of The Little Chapel of Love, Faith and Hope that now sits on her property.

“It’s a beautiful, peaceful place to sit and watch the birds,” Tierce, whose husband succumbed to cancer in 2002, said. “The doors are never going to be locked. Anybody can come anytime.”

Tierce enjoyed the chapel when it rested on land her mother owned at Orange Beach. Following Hurricane Ivan, the chapel survived and her mother later decided to sell the land.

Tierce, however, was not ready to let the chapel go. So she hired someone to move the structure to her property on Rosenbush Road, just south of Demopolis.

Rather than moving the structure as it was, the individual responsible for the relocation dismantled it, leaving Tierce and her friends to restore it.

“It has taken us almost three years to restore it,” she said. “We got it back almost like it was except the floor. The floor was concrete.”

The small, one-room chapel provides a scenic view of the tree line on either side and overlooks the pond on Tierce’s 64 acres of land.

Its interior includes an antique pulpit from the late 1800s and a pair of small benches, salvaged from the Louisiana coast, that also date back to the late 19th Century.

“When we got it here, we had so many people saying, ‘Say a prayer for me,'” Tierce recalled. That, coupled with the profound impact cancer had made on the the life of Tierce and so many she loved, sparked the idea to dedicate the chapel to cancer survivors.

A framed dedication hangs inside the chapel, explaining the chapel’s new purpose.

“The Little Chapel of Love, Faith, and Hope,” it reads. “Love for the ones who have passed, faith that the ones with cancer will get better, hope that they will find a cure for all cancer. This little chapel is dedicated to all those that have cancer or any illness. Everyone is welcome to visit, pray and ring the little chapel bell. The doors will always be open.”

A representative from the American Cancer Society is scheduled to be in attendance Saturday at 10 a.m. when the chapel, which is registered as the second smallest in the United States, is officially dedicated during a ceremony that will be officiated by Rangeline Baptist Church Pastor Randall Smith.

The families of Tierce, Thibodeaux, Gentry and Frazier are scheduled to be in attendance for the event.