Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church
Lexington NC

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THE HISTORY OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY CHURCH

In January of 1944, Holy Rosary Church in Lexington was one of two Catholic Churches in Davidson County (The County Seat). At that time there were 100,000 people in the county, with less than 1 percent of the population being Catholic.

The earliest known resident Catholics who came to Lexington in 1917 were Mrs. J. V. Brown and family, Mrs. Sylvia Leake Marsh, and Mr. J. Lance Crump.

Prior to 1944, local Catholics traveled old route 29 to worship at Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury. In that year, a mission was established through the efforts of Charles Coira, a Catholic businessman.  Father Thomas of St. Edwards Parish in High Point celebrated Sunday Masses in his home. Later in April of that year, Lexington became a mission of Sacred Heart Parish in Salisbury and was yet unnamed.  Father Cletus Helfrich of Sacred Heart Parish was assigned pastor and conducted services for about two years.

When there were approximately 15 Catholics in Lexington in November 1946, Holy Rosary Parish was formally established.

A house was purchased at 619 South Main Street that was renovated for use as a church and a rectory. Father D. Edward Sullivan was the first pastor who also served the Catholics of Asheboro as a mission. In later years, Thomasville and Mocksville became missions of Lexington. Both missions are now established parishes.

During the years 1952-58, industrial expansion brought more Catholics to Lexington. The corresponding growth took place under the guidance of Rev. Clarence Hill and Rev. Lawrence Hill. From 1952-54 Father Clarence Hill served as Pastor. In 1954, this mission was discontinued and the membership was incorporated into Holy Rosary. In 1960, Father Peytus from Christ the King Parish in High Point came to conduct a small African American Catholic Mission in the Ideal Funeral Parlor, where about 12 people attended.
            
By the mid-fifties, the facilities of the parish had become inadequate. Construction of a new church and adjoining parish house was begun in the fall of 1957 with financial aid from the parishioners, the Ix Foundation and the Extension Society.  The construction was completed during Holy Week of 1958 and dedicated by the Most Reverend Bishop Vincent Waters on July 16, 1958.  At the time of the dedication, there were only 45 families. In 1958, Father James Keenan was assigned pastor.  Mocksville became a mission of Holy Rosary and Thomasville became a mission of Immaculate Heart of Mary, High Point.  Father Robert Shea was assigned pastor in 1963.  It was also the first time that the Spaghetti Dinner was started to raise money for the Church---to purchase stained glass windows for the Church.  The first dinner was held at The Lionís Den on Carolina Avenue.  It proved so popular with the community that it became an annual event.

In 1966 Father Ron McLaughlin was assigned pastor.  There was, at this time a great
deal of racial tension and unrest.  Father McLaughlin was instrumental in forming a

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Laymanís Christian Council.   The goal of the Council was to join lay people from most of
the black and white local Churches.  They met monthly at the First Presbyterian Church to resolve the many issues at that time.

In 1979, a separate rectory was built behind the Church.  The rooms adjoining the Church, which were formerly the rectory, were converted into office space.  In 1977, the Church was updated to meet the requirements of Vatican II. Holy Rosary was established in the Diocese of Charlotte.

In 1977, Father Anthony Silvestri, an Oblate of St. Francis DeSales was named pastor. At that time a mobile unit was purchased to accommodate the many activities of the parish.  A statue of Mary was erected on the front lawn and a crucifix from the Oblate Seminary was given for the sanctuary.

In June of 1978, the Swink property directly behind the rectory was purchased, later exchanged for the Allen property on 7th Street behind the VFW in order to create parking spaces.

The Altar and Rosary Society was formed and a very popular Christmas Bazaar was born and supported by the Lexington Community, which became an annual event helping to defray the expenses of the parish.

The parish was blessed with two native sons who were ordained to the priesthood, namely Fathers Wilbur Thomas and John Greer.

Oblate Father Joseph Travers became pastor in 1978.  During his pastorate a building on 7th Avenue was purchased and used temporarily for Religious Education Classes until another building was purchased at 711 South Main Street, which was renovated to accommodate classroom space for Faith Formation, kitchen, and storage.  The Building was named Our Lady of the Rosary Parish Center. In 1981, the Parish Church had the title changed, which became known as Our Lady of the Rosary instead of Holy Rosary.  Father Travers added another building to the church, which is presently the sacristy.  He also constructed the altar and pulpit that is currently being used.

In 1988, Father Joseph Schaefer, an Oblate was assigned pastor.  Under his tenure, the sanctuary was completely turned around; stained glass windows were installed, and a statue of the Resurrected Christ graced the Sanctuary wall.

In 1988, the diocese took over the administration of the parish assigning Father Richard Hanson as pastor followed by Father Joseph Kelleher in 1991.

In 1998, the diocese once again entrusted the administration of the parish to the Oblates of St. Francis DeSales, at the request of then, Bishop Curlin.  On July 1, 1998, Father Albert J. Gondek was assigned as pastor and installed by Bishop Curlin on October 31, 1998.  Under his leadership, the Church and Rosary Hall were updated and modernized, a parish house was purchased and the former house was converted into administrative offices.

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Because of the influx of the Hispanic population in Lexington, an estimation of about 3,000, a Hispanic Community was born.  On September 16, 1999, a Spanish liturgy was celebrated for the first time.  The Church was filled to capacity and continues to be so at our weekly Spanish Mass.

At the present time w are proud of all of our accomplishments.  The facilities have been updated and modernized.  The Parish Center is complete and our long rang goals have been accomplishment.  This dream of our Parish Center renovations and expansion began in 2006 and our $264,000.00 project is now a reality.

In August, 2006 two Sisters of Providence of St. Mary- of- the-Woods, Indiana arrived and began to minister within the parish.  

In 2007 our parish council undertook the task of amending and revising our Mission Statement, Bylaws and Commissions.  We are now in compliance with the directives from the Diocese of Charlotte.

It is time for us now to concentrate more aggressively on our internal programs, religious formation and adult instruction, our short and long term goals, our on going policies and updates.   To help us with that intent, we have established a new position in our Church, with a Pastoral Associate, Sister Katherine French, SP who will assist the pastor in every phase of our parish life and activity.  This position will also include our Faith Formation Program and the Faith Development of the entire parish.  To date almost half of our Faith Formation Program is of Hispanic origin.  The face of our community is changing rapidly and we are working in concert to incorporate different cultures, traditions and languages.  We presently have a strong ESL (English as Second Language) Program and our ardent desire and mission is unity and evangelization.

With renewed hope and deep faith we move forward to continue the Lordís work in our life time.  With Godís help we will accomplish the good work that he has begun in us.

The pastors who have served Our Lady of the Rosary Parish are as follows:

1946    Rev. D. Edward Sullivan
1951    Rev. Hugh Kennedy
1952    Rev. Clarence Hill
1954    Rev. Lawrence Hill
1958    Rev. James Keenan
1963    Rev. Robert Shea
1966    Rev. Ronald McLaughlin
1971    Rev. Anthony Silvestri, O.S.F.S.
1978    Rev. Joseph Travers, O.S.F.S.
1983    Rev. Joseph Schaefer, O.S.F.S.
1988    Rev. Richard Hanson
1991    Rev. Joseph Kelleher
1998    Rev. Albert J. Gondek, O.S.F.S.