On Sunday, March 6, the oldest Catholic parish in North Carolina broke ground for construction of a new church building, which will accommodate 1,100 people in the worship space. The new structure, with a total cost of $8.6 million, is scheduled for dedication in 18 months.
The groundbreaking was held following 11:30 a.m. Mass, celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge. Concelebrants were Msgr. Michael Shugrue, Pastor of St. Patrick, and two former Pastors, Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese, and Fr. Jack Kelly. Fr. Michael Cassabon, Parochial Vicar, also concelebrated. The Gospel was proclaimed by Rev. Deacon Vince Mescall.
In his homily, Bishop Burbidge spoke of the importance of having a strong foundation in the construction of a building. He noted in the Readings of the day, that Moses and Jesus taught us that our lives must be built solidly on the “statutes and commands” given to us by God.
Bishop Burbidge encouraged the faithful to use the coming Lenten season as a time to inventory our lives and work to overcome obstacles that may be hindering us in our relationship to God. “If Jesus is truly our foundation,” the Bishop said, “then we will allow more time each day for quiet, solitude and prayer. If Jesus is truly our foundation, we will fast from material things we do not need...and reach out in love to those who require our assistance and are so often forgotten.”
A heavy downpour occurred during Mass but let up in time for the groundbreaking, with some 400 people attending, many with shovels. Bishop Burbidge turned over the first shovel of dirt, followed by Msgr. Shugrue, Father Kelly and Msgr. Brockman. Another former Pastor, Fr. John Durbin, Pastor of St. Thomas More Church in Chapel Hill, also participated in the groundbreaking, along with parish leadership and those involved in the capital campaign for the building project.
St. Patrick Church was the first Catholic parish in North Carolina, dating back to February 4, 1824, when Bishop John England formally organized the Catholic community of Fayetteville under the status of the Constitution for the Catholic Church of North Carolina. Bishop England celebrated the dedication and blessing of the first St. Patrick Church on March 17, 1829. The building was destroyed two years later in Fayetteville’s Great Fire of 1831. It was rebuilt on the same site in 1832 and served the parish for more than 100 years. A third church was built in 1936 on Arsenal Avenue, the present location of Archangel Michael Maronite Catholic Church. In 1963, St. Patrick parishioners moved to the present site on Village Drive, where the new church will be constructed. The current church building will remain as part of the parish campus, that also includes St. Patrick Catholic School, which has served the Fayetteville community for 74 years.
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrating Mass at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fayetteville. (Left to right) Parochial Vicar Fr. Michael Cassabon; Fr. Jack Kelly; Rev. Deacon Vince Mescall; Bishop Burbidge; Msgr. David D. Brockman; and Msgr. Michael Shugrue, current Pastor of St. Patrick.
Above: St. Patrick parishioners attending groundbreaking ceremony for new church scheduled for completion in September, 2012.
Above: Children taking part in groundbreaking for new church.