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Saint Mary of the Angels Parish Celebrates a Centennial of Service


On Sunday, May 22, 2016, the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, members of Saint Mary of the Angels Parish in Mount Olive gathered to celebrate 100 years since their community was established as a mission of St. Mary’s Parish in Goldsboro

The Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina, Bishop Leo Haid, O.S.B., the Abbot of Belmont Abbey, dedicated the mission chapel, which was built on land purchased by Servant of God Fr. Thomas Price, on May 21, 1916.

The anniversary Masses on Sunday were celebrated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, with Chancellor Abbot Placid Solari, OSB, of Belmont Abbey, Fr. James F. Garneau, pastor of Saint Mary of the Angels, and Msgr. John Williams, former pastor of Saint Mary, concelebrating. Fr. Garneau was the homilist.

In his homily, Fr. Garneau spoke of the Mystery of the Holy Trinity as something “we don’t need to worry about” but need simply to immerse ourselves in. “Knowing this mystery will help us to know who we are,” Fr. Garneau said. “We are men women and children created from an abundance of God’s love. The knowledge and acceptance of the unlimited Trinitarian love of God brings joy and forgiveness and peace to the whole world.” Fr. Garneau noted how the fertility of God’s love was demonstrated by the gradual expansion of the Saint Mary Catholic community and its outreach.

Between the two Sunday Masses, Bishop Burbidge, Abbot Placid and Fr. Garneau visited the old chapel, which has since become the parish office, standing on the land acquired by Fr. Price. The original church structure there was partially destroyed by a fire in December of 1947. Re-building of the small wooden building covered by brown shingles began the next month. A bell tower was added and the charred remains were covered with brick. At that same time, the interior was refinished in oak and the windows were replaced with amber glass. The entire work was completed in February of 1948 and stood, largely unchanged, until the extensive re-modeling of the Great Jubilee Year, 2000, when the current windows were installed.

The mission of Mount Olive was, over time, made the responsibility of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Newton Grove, and then of Immaculate Conception Parish  in Clinton. Finally, on July 1, 1998, in recognition of the growing immigrant population within the region, the mission was constituted as a parish by Bishop F. Joseph Gossman, and Fr. Fernando Torres was named the administrator, becoming the first resident priest to serve the community.

In 2005, over eight acres of land, located two miles from the original site of the parish church, on Highway 117, were purchased on behalf of the parish. An additional four acres were purchased soon thereafter. The parish began construction on the new property in December, 2010, and the new parish church was dedicated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, the Bishop of Raleigh, on Sunday, August 28, 2011.