FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -
The oldest Catholic congregation in North Carolina has a new church building that has been decades in the making.
St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fayetteville held a dedication service for its new church building on Thursday night. An ecumenical service and open house followed on Friday night. On Saturday the church will have its first regularly scheduled mass in the new building.
More than 1,400 people attended the dedication service according to Joe Long, the Pastoral Associate for Evangelization, Worship and Formation at St. Patrick. He said a feeling of excitement moved through the congregation during the service.
“It's very much special to them. They've been waiting a long time and last night the excitement that was in here was very surprising even for me,” Long said. “I thought (maybe) most people will be here. They came out in droves to celebrate with us.”
Long said John England the Bishop of Charleston founded St. Patrick Catholic Church in 1821 when he found Catholics living in the Fayetteville area while traveling.
Before moving to Village Drive the church had been in Haymount. 50 years ago the church moved to Village Drive with plans of eventually constructing a larger building. Instead the church remained in what was planned to be only a temporary home.
Eventually, around 2001 to 2002, the congregation decided to renovate. That plan was eventually dropped in favor of building a new church. It took 13 years to figure out plans and raise the money Long said.
“We've had several setbacks along the way, but it's led us to something much better,” Long commented. “With our own patience we've managed to get a wonderful building.”
Now the church contains a baptismal fountain, and the space that formerly held mass at St. Patrick is the social hall.
There are also stained glass windows from a church that closed in Pennsylvania. The artist who made them only made two sets of church windows in his life. One set was in that Pennsylvania church and now accents the new St. Patrick.
The entry hall is home to a painted portrait of John England and a church bell that survived Fayetteville’s “great fire” of 1831.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>