This article was written for our sponsor, the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.

Waves of people from all over the world and nation moving to North Carolina created a diverse community. For some, praying together in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh has been essential in finding friends and a supportive community.

However, this is not just a modern phenomenon – it has been happening since the founding of the country.

Few Catholics lived in the area during colonial times, but an influx of immigrants increased the church’s ranks in the early to mid-19th century, according to NCPedia. From there, an American Catholic identity began to develop.

The first Catholic priest born in North Carolina, Father Thomas Frederick Price, was ordained in 1886, and after spending several years traveling among state missions, he settled in Raleigh, where he built a neighborhood he called Nazareth, home to a farm and orphanage.

In 1924, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh was established and the Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus stands today in the neighborhood of Nazareth, now known as Mission Valley.

In the late 1800s, the area received large numbers of Catholics when many Lebanese believers moved to North Carolina, said Bishop Jerry Lewis, historian for the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh. A second major boost to Catholic roles came from the military. With World War II, many men were stationed at bases across the region, from Fort Bragg to Camp Lejeune.

“A lot of guys married Southern girls and stayed here,” Lewis said.

More believers from the United States came when Research Triangle Park was built in 1959.

“There has been a huge influx of people from the North,” Lewis said.

In addition, from the 1970s and 1980s, waves of immigrants from Latin American countries, strongly Catholic regions of the world, began to fill parish lists. The number of Hispanics is now high enough that there are services in Spanish on Saturdays and Sundays at the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh, and the bishop of the diocese, Monsignor Luis Rafael Zarama, is Colombian.

Most of the Catholic population in North Carolina is made up of transplant recipients and immigrants. It is estimated that only 5% of the state’s Catholic population originate from this region. They find bonds and community through their common faith.

“While some Tar Heel Catholics can trace their ancestors back several generations to the state, the vast majority are newcomers, part of the demographic waves that have swept through the state in recent decades,” said Bill Powers. , author of “Tar Heel Catholics: A History of Catholicism in North Carolina.”

Powers continued, “Newcomers range from affluent and highly skilled professionals attracted to universities, medical centers and corporate headquarters, to migrants from Latin America attracted by work opportunities in agriculture and the economy. industry. Despite their differences, all find in the Catholic Church an anchor of security and a connection to their past as they face the challenges of their new home. “

The church serves Catholics and all members of the region through a variety of ministries and programs. He is mainly dedicated to the mission of bringing help to those in need by alleviating the effects of poverty. It aims to support disadvantaged and at-risk communities, including immigrants and people affected by natural disasters.

The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, in particular, has a number of resources and ministries dedicated to serving minorities in the church.

“Putting this goal into practice is a work in progress. To a large extent, the wealthiest transplant recipients in the North are called upon to support programs and services for those struggling to gain a foothold in their new homes. The main dimensions of supporting newcomers are worship, education and social well-being. said Powers.

“The needs of worship are facilitated by the presence in the State of priests from more than a dozen countries who are able to celebrate Mass, baptize, officiate at weddings and pray with Catholics in their own language,” he said. he continued. “This diversity includes not only the Spanish-speaking clergy, but priests from regions as diverse as Korea, Vietnam and Africa. Several language groups have offices in their mother tongue at least once a month.

In addition to multicultural work, the church also supports people through ministries focused on faith formation, marriage and family life, human life and dignity, and youth and young adults, for n ‘ to name a few. For example, the cathedral holds an annual wedding anniversary to celebrate successful marriages of couples from across the diocese, Lewis said. At this year’s celebration, couples from across eastern Carolina came to celebrate their 40th, 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries.

Community is also found by coming together and worshiping together and participating in volunteer work that uplifts and helps others in need.

Through all of these ministries, the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh has become a center for a diverse community of believers who have gathered in North Carolina.

“Just as many generations ago, the Northern Catholic Church was built by immigrants from Ireland, Italy and Poland, so today the Church of North Carolina grows and flourishes with newcomers from Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines, ”said Powers.

This article was written for our sponsor, the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.


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