The surprising link between a neighborhood in Raleigh and the Catholic Church ::

This article was written for our sponsor, the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.

Just west of downtown Raleigh is a neighborhood like many in the area, populated by shopping malls, gas stations and apartment complexes. It forms a bit of a peninsula on the North Carolina State University campus, surrounded by undergraduate housing and student hangouts.

So it may be surprising to learn of its history as a 600-acre area named Nazareth, a place that still has significance for the Catholic Church in North Carolina.

In the beginning, the Mission Valley neighborhood was an African-American community, where many families lived until the 1980s, said Bishop Jerry Lewis, historian for the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh. North Carolina’s first Catholic priest, Father Thomas Frederick Price, bought property there in the 1890s and worked with residents to rename the area to Nazareth.

Price was “incredibly energetic and idealistic,” said Bill Powers, author of “Tar Heel Catholics: A History of Catholicism in North Carolina”. He intended to create both an orphanage and a seminary.

While the seminar did not function, the orphanage was successful and accommodated up to 350 children at a time, over its existence of about a century.

The land Price acquired was a farm, and it continued to function as a cattle farm and gardens for the benefit of the neighborhood and the children who lived in the orphanage.

“It was a productive area as well as a very scenic area,” Lewis said.

The Catholic Church has benefited the neighborhood and its surroundings in a variety of ways, including providing work opportunities, Lewis said.

“The church employed a number of families in laundry, cooking, cooking, bus driving, that sort of thing when the orphanage was going on,” Lewis said. “The Belmont Mercy Sisters looked after the children, and there was a priest overseeing.”

Price, who was eager to share the message of Catholicism with everyone, worked for 20 years in North Carolina, then turned to the Department of Foreign Affairs. In 1911, he and another priest founded what would become the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, an organization “dedicated to missionary work abroad in over 20 countries,” according to its website. To supervise the work, Price moved to China, where he eventually died.

Now Price is considered for holiness, a long process that began in 2012.

“We are in the very first step of the process,” Lewis said. “We asked the Congregation (for the Causes of Saints) in Rome to start the process, and they approved this part, and our commission here has done a full study of all of Father Price’s writings and verified and certified that. and sent everything to Rome. “

The neighborhood that Price envisioned and helped build has changed a lot over the years. A bishop leased part of the land to a commercial area. An additional 75 acres became part of the North Carolina State University campus. But it’s still a special place, sacred ground even, Powers said.

The dream of building a cathedral there was realized in 2017, and it shines “like a beacon of light on Raleigh,” Powers said. It is a symbol of the strength the church has become in North Carolina, with two dioceses in the state and hundreds of thousands of believers.

In all the ministries and community works in which the diocese is involved, it remains dedicated to its mission to help those in need by alleviating the effects of poverty while fostering hope by developing transformational solutions.

This article was written for our sponsor, the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.

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