On Sunday, August 26, 2012, members of Transfiguration of Jesus Parish in Wallace, NC, gathered to celebrate the parish’s 60th anniversary. The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass and installed Transfiguration’s new pastor, Fr. John Alex Gonzalez. Fr. Gonzalez will also serve Transfiguration’s mission of Santa Clara in Magnolia. Transfiguration and Santa Clara are the only Catholic churches in Duplin County. Until its erection on June 28, 2012, as a parish in its own right, Transfiguration was a mission of St. Joseph in Burgaw.
Fr. Gonzalez concelebrated with Bishop Burbidge. In his homily, Bishop Burbidge spoke of the upcoming Year of Faith as “centered on the truth that only Jesus has the words of eternal life; only Jesus brings us genuine peace and true happiness both now and forever. The Year of Faith is an opportunity for us to grow in that Truth as revealed in Christ and taught in and through His Holy Church. It is a time for us to embrace a deeper knowledge of the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to help others do the same.”
Referring to the readings for the Mass, the Bishop also spoke on humility. “Humility is the ability to recognize that all that we hope to accomplish can only be done with the strength that God supplies,” he said. “In other words, it never depends on us, but always on God’s amazing grace.”
A reception on the church lawn and in the parish hall followed the Mass.
The Transfiguration of Jesus community began in 1952, when Fr. John Harper, pastor in Clinton, sought a place for Catholics to worship in Duplin County. For the next two years, beginning with seven families, Wallace Catholics met for Mass with Fr. Harper in the Legion Hut and later in the top floor of a shop owned by a parishioner on East Main Street. In 1953, the parish moved to a renovated house on East Main Street, but by the ‘60s the parish, under the leadership of 12 priests from various parishes, had grown to 65 members and required a church building.
Transfiguration Church was dedicated on June 28, 1965, by the Most Reverend Vincent S. Waters. Its hexagonal design was inspired by a church at the Indian Reservation in Cherokee, NC. A new Education and Social Hall was added in 2000.
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, celebrating Mass at Transfiguration Church with Deacon Robert Price on the left and Fr. John Alex Gonzalez on the right. (Courtesy Galan Photography) Click photo to view larger.
Below: Transfiguration parishioners attending reception following the anniversary Mass. Click photo to view larger.