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A Humble History

The growth of the Catholic Church in Salisbury, N.C.


During the Spanish missions of the Americas, Juan Pardo lead a group in 1566 on an expedition through La Forida (present day South Carolina and North Carolina). One of his companions was Sebastian Montero, a Spanish secular priest. This is the first authenticated instance of missionary success with the American aboriginies, and it happened HERE in Rowan County. 

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The Catholic Church had a humble beginning in Salisbury. With very few Catholics in the southern states, Catholic priests would cover huge areas of land. Some locations would not see a priest for several years. However, even in these early years we begin to see the Catholic Church start to grow.

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Shortly after the construction of the first Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Monks of Belmont Abbey began ministering to the people of Salisbury and Rowan County. This continued through the creation of the Diocese of Raleigh in 1924.

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Pastors continued to come and go during this time period. However, in 1939 it was decided that a new church would need to be built. Father William Regnant worked tirelessly to help this dream become a reality.

New Church 1940

Shortly after the new church was built, Sacred Heart received it's first Diocesan pastor, Father Cletus Helfrich. It was not known by him at the time, but Father Helfrich became the longest tenured pastor of Sacred Heart, remaining as pastor for 28 years.

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In 1942, a new mission was founded in Salisbury. Our Lady of Victories was founded by The American Province of Holy Ghost Fathers and was built to serve the black, Catholic community in Salisbury. Even though the mission has since closed, this is an important part of the history of the Catholic Church in Salisbury.

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Use this interactive page to view the beauty of the current Sacred Heart Catholic Church located on Lumen Christi Lane. Click the yellow markers to learn about the different parts of the church.

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Over the years there have been many different pastors of Sacred Heart. This page lists each of the men who have held that position. (Hint: If you click on the pastor's photo, you can read his biography.)

As more photos are gathered, you can find complete albums of related content here. Many of these photos are also used or shared throughout the website as well.

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