As the oldest Catholic parish in North Carolina, under the patronage of Saint Patrick,
we are a diverse and evolving community who seeks to know God through the Word,
the Eucharist and the Sacraments. We gather a grateful people committed to a life of
stewardship. Striving to fulfill our baptismal promises, we practice a life of prayer,
minister to the poor, and remain open to God’s call to change.
The History of Saint Patrick Church
The Saint Patrick Catholic faith community enters the 21st century celebrating in its fifth and newly dedicated Church. The community continues to stress the Catholic teachings first put forth by its patron Saint Patrick that all human beings are born with dignity and must be respected, no matter what their condition in life. Similarly, all people must be treated equally under the law, with a special preference to protect those who have been marginalized or ostracized. These faith teachings and principles have guided Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Fayetteville, NC in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and into the 21st. century. Reflective of the community it serves, Saint Patrick Catholic Church is a story of American immigrants from the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Central and South America. All have renewed the ecumenical, evangelical, and faith traditions that have come to be central to what has and still does make the Saint Patrick community unique among Catholics in North Carolina.
In a journal written by Bishop John England titled “Diurnal of the Right Rev. John England, First Bishop of Charleston, S.C. from 1820 to 1823” He describes his first visit to Fayetteville, NC arriving on the evening of July 31, 1821. On August 6, 1821, “Made some exertions to establish the book Society and to commence a Church.“ On August 11, 1821, “I celebrated Mass. Excerted myself to prevail on the flock to meet on Sundays for prayer and instruction. I procured a room for the purpose and commissioned John Kelly Esq. and Messrs Dillion, Jordan, James McKay, and Patk. Phelan to read the prayers and conduct instruction“, establishing a Catholic worship community (parish) in Fayetteville, NC The meeting place (building) would in 1824, be placed under the protection of Saint Patrick. On Tuesday, March 17, 1829, Bishop England celebrated the dedication and solemn blessing of the church. Saint Patrick Church was the first Roman Catholic sanctuary dedicated in the state.
In the early years, there was no permanent pastor available, so Sunday Mass was not a weekly celebration. Traveling missionaries stopped in every three months or so to say Mass and to hear confessions. In between these Masses, lay leaders, including Kelly conducted services. Unfortunately, the small chapel was destroyed in Fayetteville's Great fire of 1831 along with all church records. Parishioners then faced the grim task of rebuilding.
The second church structure that served the Saint Patrick community was near the same site, at historical Liberty Point. This building served parish members, for more than 100 years. As early as 1833, Saint Patrick Church shared a priest with Raleigh and Wilmington so that Sunday Mass could be celebrated every other month. By 1837, two priests had been assigned to Fayetteville on an occasional basis. Finally, 1n 1859, Father Thomas Murphy wrote to the Bishop about getting a full-time priest for the area. But it was not until 1867 when the church was assigned a young priest, Father James Gibbons. Father Gibbons later became a noted cardinal and author. In his many travels over his mission territory, he wrote a journal. The result of these writings was "The Faith of Our Fathers", an explanation of the Catholic religion which was translated into 12 languages. Another noted priest, Father Thomas Price, founder of Maryknoll, also served at Saint Patrick. He was assigned here in 1896 and 1900.
It was in 1936 that Saint Patrick pulled up roots and relocated to Arsenal Avenue. Dedicated on March 17, 1938, this church has a seating capacity of 200; the Church is the present location of Archangel Michael Maronite Catholic Church. During the time on Arsenal avenue, Saint Patrick Church opened its first school, on Haymount Hill.
The faith community moved to its present location on Village Drive in 1963 with the dedication of its fourth church on December 8 1963. Almost 22 years later, Saint Patrick School moved from its second location on Bragg Rd. to the current location next to the Church on Marlborough Rd. The current worship space, the fifth Saint Patrick Church, was dedicated on April 10, 2014. As the oldest Catholic parish in North Carolina we are a diverse and evolving community of over 1750 families who seek to know God through the Word, the Eucharist, and the Sacraments.