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Immaculate Conception, Clinton, Celebrates Centennial

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On May 31, Pentecost Sunday, hundreds of faithful gathered at the Sampson County Agri-Exhibition Center in Clinton to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Immaculate Conception Parish. The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, celebrated the bilingual Mass and Father Fernando Torres, Pastor of Immaculate Conception, gave the homily in English and Spanish.

At the Offertory, gifts were presented by parishioners in native costumes representing the ethnic and cultural diversity of the parish. At the end of Mass, Bishop Burbidge delivered remarks to the assembly. “Many priests and religious and so many lay faithful have offered generous service to Immaculate Conception throughout its history,” the Bishop said. “I express my profound gratitude and pray that Almighty God keep you all strong in faith and steadfast in hope.” Congratulations were also offered by Mr. Lew Starling, Mayor of Clinton. Mass was followed by a dinner and in the evening by a candlelight prayer service.

The few Catholics in Clinton at the turn of the 19th century were served by famed missionary and Servant of God Fr. Thomas Frederick Price, who solicited the funds to build a mission church in 1907. Fr. Michael Irwin was the first Pastor, and his parish had six registered families. Today more than 250 families are registered, and many more attend Mass at the church.

From its small beginnings, Immaculate Conception would eventually become the mother church of Catholic communities in Mount Olive, Magnolia and Ingold, among others. In its history, the parish has been served by many Diocesan priests, as well as Redemptorist priests, women religious from the Third Order of St. Francis Philadelphia Foundation and, currently, Sisters of Divine Providence.