Bishop John England Dedicates Fayetteville’s St. Patrick Church, 1829

St. Patrick’s Church in an unknown year.

On March 17, 1829, Roman Catholic Bishop John England consecrated Saint Patrick Church in Fayetteville. The consecration was the first for a Catholic church in North Carolina. The following week England traveled to Beaufort County, where he dedicated St. John’s in Washington, the first Catholic church built in North Carolina.

John EnglandBishop England directed the Catholic Church in the Carolinas for much of the antebellum period. He arrived from Ireland in 1820 at the age 33 to take charge of the Diocese of Charleston. Owing in no small measure to his energy and steadfastness, the church took hold in North Carolina. On his arrival, small enclaves of Catholics in larger towns met in private homes and church buildings of other faiths and were served on occasion by itinerant priests.

Catholic churches were later built in Raleigh, New Bern, Wilmington, Charlotte and Edenton, all before the Civil War. The state remained part of the Diocese of Charleston until 1868 when a new vicariate was created and James Gibbons was installed as the first vicar apostolic.

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