On Pentecost Sunday, May 23rd, Sts. Mary and Edward Parish in Roxboro, NC, celebrated its 75th anniversary. The anniversary Mass was offered at Stories Creek Elementary School in Roxboro in order to accommodate the some 300 people in attendance. The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, was the principal celebrant and homilist; concelebrating were Reverend William Rodriguez, Pastor of the parish; Reverend Pius Wekesa, Pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Roanoke Rapids; Reverend Robert Staley, Parochial Vicar of St. Bernadette Parish in Fuquay-Varina; and Reverend Joseph Vetter, Diocesan Director of Campus Ministry.
Roxboro’s Catholic community predates the 1935 parish founding. In the 1920’s, Roxboro Catholics were served by priests from St. Paul Church in Henderson, who celebrated Mass in the dining rooms and parlors of private homes.
In 1934, Father Eugene Carroll, pastor of St. Paul, borrowed $900 from the Diocese of Raleigh to buy land for a church in Roxboro. George Kane, a local contractor, donated the labor; Mary Hyde, at the urging of her brother, Edward Kelly of Brooklyn, NY, donated $6000 for materials. In 1935, Bishop William J. Hafey dedicated the new church, named for the patron saints of its benefactors.
Today the parish counts around 400 registered families, half Anglo and half Latino, and covers a large, mostly rural territory.
In his homily, Bishop Burbidge asked the parishioners to recall how the Holy Spirit has worked in their parish and to think of all the many people who have come to Sts. Mary and Edward to receive the sacraments. “On this occasion,” the Bishop said, “I commend you for all that your parish has done, and I also ask you to be renewed in your parish. We are sent, like the Apostles at Pentecost, to reach out to others, especially those in most need. Continue to ask yourselves, ‘How are we proclaiming our Catholic faith?’”
A slide show of the history of Sts. Mary and Edward and a reception followed the Mass. Assisting at the celebration were the Knights of Columbus from Councils in Roxboro and Chapel Hill.
Above: Parishioners of Sts. Mary and Edward Parish in Roxboro at 75th Anniversary Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge.