After six years of investigation, research and witness testimony, the Diocese of Raleigh officially closed the diocesan phase of the Cause of Servant of God Father Thomas F. Price during a solemn vespers service at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh.
Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama presided at the prayer service July 11 as hundreds of faithful from throughout the diocese witnessed the historic occasion, the first of its kind in North Carolina.
Father Price was the first native-born North Carolinian to be ordained a Catholic priest. His life was dedicated to evangelizing mission territory in North Carolina with the stated goal to make “every Tar Heel a Catholic.”
He founded the Nazareth Orphanage, on the site which now holds cathedral, and continued his mission work by founding the Maryknoll Mission Society in New York.
Father Price died while on a mission trip to China in 1919.
“He died on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, and we are celebrating the closing of this diocesan process in the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. This is not a coincidence,” said Bishop Luis Rafael in his homily. “And this place in which the cathedral is today was the place that Father Price bought to have an orphanage … He was concerned about the … care of the boys and girls and, now the place that he used for that is the place we are using for the care of the spiritual wellbeing of the Diocese of Raleigh.”
After the homily, the bishop was joined by Father James Garneau, the episcopal delegate for the cause, and other representatives from the delegation to sign and seal all assembled documents.
The three boxes of documents were wrapped in brown paper, tied with red ribbon and, after all documents were signed, sealed with the Bishop’s ring embossed in wax. The packages will be sent to Rome via diplomatic pouch, which ensures that only the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of the Saints can break that seal and view the evidence.
From there, the pontifical congregation will review the evidence and decide whether to recommend that Pope Francis declare that Father Price has shown “heroic virtue,” which would earn him the title, “Venerable.” If miracles can be attributed to Father Price, the Pope then can choose to canonize him as a Saint.
Zachary Thompson, 13, attended the vespers with his family. “[It’s] exciting because you can say you saw one of the first steps of him being a saint if he does become a saint,” Zachary said. “I do think my family will pray for him because we all think it would be cool if somebody from North Carolina becomes a saint.”
- Mandy Howard
The diocese is encouraged to ask for the intercession of Servant of God Father Thomas F. Price with the following prayer.
Heavenly Father, you so inspired Father Thomas Frederick Price with love for You and zeal for the Gospel that he dedicated his life to serve You and Your Church, first in North Carolina, his home state, and then in the foreign missions. Grant that by his example we may grow in holiness and into a deeper union with Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to be authentic witnesses of the Gospel and proclaim the Holy Name of Jesus throughout the Diocese of Raleigh and to all the people and in all the places we are sent to love and serve.
If it be according to Your Will, glorify your servant, Father Thomas Frederick Price, by granting the favor I (we) now request through his prayerful intercession (mention your request here).
I (we) make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
Impramatur: Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, Fifth Bishop of Raleigh
Download a printable prayer card (PDF).