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Catholic Church shows growth in Triangle

Posted April 4, 2010
Updated April 5, 2010

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— Many Catholic churches are seeing a surge in attendance. Easter Sunday was no exception as Catholics filled churches across the Triangle to capacity.

Attendance up at Catholic churches Attendance up at Catholic churches

At the Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 200 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, it was standing room only Sunday. The church has grown from 3,149 parishioners in 1999 to a present-day membership of 5,871, according to Frank Morock, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese in Raleigh.

"It seems like it's growing every year," said Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.

Catholicism is increasing across the 54-county diocese, Morock said. Ten years ago, there were 153,000 registered Catholics. Now there are 217,000 registered Catholics with approximately 50 percent residing in Wake, Durham, Orange, Johnson and Franklin counties, Morock said.

Another estimated 225,000 Hispanics also consider themselves Catholic but aren't registered, Morock said.

"What a blessing," Burbidge said of the growth.

Attendance at the St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, 810 High House Road, Cary, has grown considerably over the last 20 years. With some 18,000 members, the church has the largest diocese population in the Triangle, Morock said.

Growth can be linked partly to population shifts of people moving from the Northeast and Midwest, Morock said.

Population shifts have also affected church attendance in other faiths as well. The congregation at the First United Methodist Church, 117 South Academy St., Cary, has grown by almost 600 members over the last five and a half years.

"This church was right at the beginning of when Cary started growing very fast," said Pastor Rodney Hamm with First United Methodist Church. "I would say that this church grows probably by a thousand or so every 10 years."

To accommodate its growing congregation, the church expanded buildings and added extra services.  The church now offers four separate services on Sunday.

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  • momeeee Apr 5, 12:54 p.m.

    wwyoud - Well then, those people did not listen very well.

  • wwyoud Apr 5, 12:10 p.m.

    I grew up here in the 60s and 70s as well - despite all the church attendenace, not much has really changed in regards to violence and crimes. It just was more clear who the "others" were to do the crimes to - you didn't hurt people you went to church with. Moral compasses come from many places other than religion, and religious people can be just as guilty of bad morals as anyone else.

  • lauraleigh Apr 5, 11:36 a.m.

    NotFromHere - You're spot on about the moral compass. When I was growing up here in rural NC in the 60s and 70s, everybody went to church. It's just what decent people did, it was expected. Now so many people don't bother with church at all. It's no wonder our society has lost its bearings and become more violent, disrespectful of others, and so on.

  • NotFromHere Apr 5, 11:22 a.m.

    I am glad to see the growth of any mainstream Christian denomination - Catholic or otherwise - as well as Jewish, Muslim, Buddist, and other mainstream religious organizations. I know that some religious groups are extreme, and sometimes wrongs are done in the name of religion. But for the majority of good people, the practice of their religion can have a very positive effect on their life. It is good to have a moral compass to direct your life and show you a path for doing good.

  • lauraleigh Apr 5, 10:53 a.m.

    haggis basher - you need to do some homework. Roughly 60% of kids molested are the victims of RELATIVES - followed by teachers, coaches, and clergy and youth workers from nonCatholic denominations. Catholic clergy have the LOWEST incidence of abuse.
    @Tarheelsdontlikeedwards - I think that's rather a simplistic view. The Church operates the largest charitable institution after the federal government - and owns about 25% of hospitals throughout the U.S. We GIVE a lot to the latino community, documented & otherwise. And we also provide a basis for morality so desperately needed - not only among the illegals (who account for so much of our crime) but also among legals and citizens, who are being swayed by negative influences wherever one turns.

  • daMoFo Apr 5, 10:25 a.m.

    When I moved to Fayetteville NC in the late 1960's, there was a sign on I-95 that read "Join the Klan and fight communism, integration and Catholicism". Looks like at least one of the folks that put up that sign are still around.

  • momeeee Apr 5, 10:24 a.m.

    lauraleigh - I am happy that you joined the Catholic faith. It has given me much joy throughout my life and continues to do so.

    Haggis basher - Not all clergy molest children and it is not just in the Catholic church that this happens. Remember they are human and do wrong as you & I do.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Apr 5, 10:18 a.m.

    The growth is from the illegal immigration of hispanics. No wonder the Catholic Church is against the deportation of illegal immigrants. It would significantly reduce their income.

  • seeingthru Apr 5, 9:54 a.m.

    I think that folks are getting fed up with the saved---waiting for the rapture southern baptist

  • haggis basher Apr 5, 9:17 a.m.

    "but there are also many people, like me, who convert to Catholicism. Now, THAT would make for an interesting story."

    It would be a bizarre story! Why anyone would convert to a religion run by those that would molest children or protect those that do is certainly a question I would like answered!
    I guess some people just like being told what to do and what to think............

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