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St. Francis of Assisi Church to reopen Serio’s Grocery as community service center

A landmark grocery store on South First Street will soon become a haven of help for those in need.

The large, two-story building that housed Serio’s Grocery for more than 80 years has been donated to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.

Rosalie T. Serio, who helped run the store with her nephew Sammy until her death at age 92 in 2013, wanted her church to put the building to good use, said Rev. Henry S. Shelton, the priest at St. Francis where Serio was a member.

The church had an interested buyer for the property, but decided a better use would be to keep it and use it to help the neighborhood.

The church’s vision is to invite area churches to work together to make the facility a service center for the community, he said.

“We really want this to be an ecumenical venture for our community,” Shelton said. “In my short time here, I have been so impressed with the spirit of the people.”

Shelton said the church wants the building to be “an umbrella under which various types of aid will be provided.”

They envision a food pantry, soup kitchen, clothing store and a “meals on wheels” service.

“Dr. Tim Shann has been the primary impetus behind this,” Shelton said.

The church is open to input on the project, and Shann is the point person for the endeavor.

“I came here after being pastor in Tupelo for many years. There I was so involved with many outreach ministries,” Shelton said. “What I find here is a smaller version of Tupelo — a community that is proactive when challenges arise to bring us all closer together.”

Mission Mississippi of Lincoln County will host a Pastors Gathering at the Serio Building, 706 S. First St., on July 11 from 7:30-9:30 a.m. to look at ways various churches can work together to meet the needs of the community.