St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Greenville celebrated its 75th anniversary Sunday, February 27, with the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Principal Celebrant and Homilist. Msgr Girard Sherba, Chancellor of the Diocese; Father Justin Kerber, C.P., V.F, Dean of the Tar River Deanery; and Father Jeffrey Bowker, L.C., Parochial Vicar of St. Gabriel Church concelebrated. Father Michael A. Butler, Pastor of the parish, was unable to be present due to sickness.
The anniversary celebration took place five years to the day of the dedication of the new St. Gabriel Church building on February 27, 2005. The liturgy was held at Rock Spring Center, an event facility in Greenville, in order to accommodate the parish community. A reception at the center followed the Mass.
Bishop Burbidge extended gratitude to Father Butler, the former pastors and all who served the church since its establishment in 1936. At that time, Bishop William J. Hafey requested Father Maurice Tew, a young Passionist priest from Boston, to build a Catholic community, which he did with the help of contributions from benefactors in the North. In 1956, Father Tew added a Catholic school and convent. The Sisters of Christian Charity served at the school for the next 30 years. Father Tew left Greenville in 1964, and the Diocese staffed the Church until 1987, when the Passionists returned for another 20 years. Today, it is staffed once again by the Diocese.
“It is wonderful to see your diversity and the unity that is ours as brothers and sisters,” Bishop Burbidge said in his homily. “You are a special gift to me and our Diocese. I am very proud of all of you and extend my sincere congratulations.”
Noting that an anniversary of a parish is a grace-filled moment providing the opportunity to renew our promise to be faithful witnesses and followers of the Lord, Bishop Burbidge said, “Be trusting in the promise of the prophet of Isaiah: The Lord our God will never forget us.” He added, in order for us to be trustworthy, “Our actions must reflect our words or we will not be taken seriously.”
In closing, Bishop Burbidge extended his prayer that, “Through the intercession of Mary our Mother and Saint Gabriel, may the Lord continue to shower His blessings upon you at this historic moment in the life of your parish and always.”
Above: Bishop Burbidge during homily at 75th anniversary Mass for St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Greenville, held at Rock Spring Center.