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St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte marks 50th anniversary


Pictured: St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte celebrated its 50th anniversary on Oct. 15 with a special concert, Mass and reception. Pictured (from left) are Bishop Peter J. Jugis, who grew up at the parish, and Father Mark Lawlor, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, during the Mass. (SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald)

Bishop celebrates anniversary Mass at childhood parish home

CHARLOTTE — St. Vincent de Paul Church marked an auspicious anniversary Oct. 15 with the celebration of its 50th anniversary in the Diocese of Charlotte. What made the event especially meaningful is that Bishop Peter J. Jugis also happens to be a "native son" of the parish.

His parents, Joe and Peggy Jugis, are founding members who joined the parish in 1965. Bishop Jugis was an active member of St. Vincent de Paul and was confirmed there in 1969. He is the first priestly vocation from the parish.

"What a marvelous miracle of grace that the Holy Spirit has been working here the past 50 years, to unite the people of God around the altar, strengthening them in the life of grace, the life of holiness and charity," Bishop Jugis said during his homily during the anniversary Mass Oct. 15.

"Everything here speaks to us of Jesus," he emphasized.

He then enumerated all the beautiful outward signs in the church that help the faithful recognize Jesus: the statues and images of the Blessed Mother and the saints throughout the church; the unique architecture which allows the light to stream in from above; the Stations of the Cross; the congregation itself "which is the Body of Christ," he noted; and the sacraments – most especially the Eucharist.

A touching moment during the Mass occurred at the presentation of the gifts when Bishop Jugis' parents helped bring up the Communion hosts, presenting them to their son to be consecrated and broken as the Body of Christ.

The parish's past 50 years "went so fast," Mrs. Jugis recalled fondly, adding about her son's vocation, "The Lord has blessed him and blessed the diocese."

102111_st-vincent-grace2Bishop Peter Jugis (far left) is pictured on his confirmation day with fellow confirmandi and Bishop Vincent S. Waters at St. Vincent de Paul Church in 1969. (Photo provided by St. Vincent de Paul Church)

Father Mark Lawlor, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church, concelebrated the anniversary Mass and shared his thoughts on the anniversary, "Here it's been nice because there are a number of people who have lived the whole history of the parish. They have given me first-hand accounts of it. Also, the great blessing of having been confirmed by Bishop Michael J. Begley, who founded the parish, is a special connection. Every pastor is indebted to those who have come before him, the clergy and laity that have come before him."

Also concelebrating the anniversary Mass were Abbot Placid Solari, abbot of Belmont Abbey; Father Kieran Neilson of Belmont Abbey; Father Gabriel Carvajal-Salazar, parochial vicar at St. Aloysius Church in Hickory; and Father Joshua Voitus, parochial vicar at St. Vincent de Paul Church. Deacons John Kopfle and Carlos Medina assisted at Mass.

At a dinner reception following the Mass, inside the activity center named for the late pastor Monsignor William N. Pharr, several long-time parishioners recalled the early years and the many ways parishioners came together to support one another and build the parish. Father Neilson, a monk at Belmont Abbey who is a native of Charlotte and helped serve at the mission parish over many years also spoke, sharing anecdotes with his infectious sense of humor.

Those gathered also recognized the more than 17 founding members who were present and also the late Deacon Gerald Hickey, who passed away in June. His wife Joan was in attendance.

Several priests of the diocese who attended the reception included: Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin; Father Timothy Reid, pastor of St. Ann Church in Charlotte; Father Richard DeClue, parochial vicar at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte; Father Peter Pham, parochial vicar at St. John Neumann Church in Charlotte; and Father John Vianney Hoover of Charlotte.

"You are one family in the Lord, one family of St. Vincent de Paul Church," said Bishop Jugis at the conclusion of his homily at Mass. "...As we celebrate 50 years of a Catholic presence on this site, let everything here continue speak to us of Jesus and especially Our Lord who is really present and presiding over the assembly in the Holy Eucharist. Let Him transform us so that we become more and more like the Lord whom we love."

— SueAnn Howell, staff writer

102111_st-vincent-grace3Founding and long-time members of St. Vincent de Paul Church bring up the gifts at the 50th anniversary Mass on Oct. 15. Pictured (from left) are Joseph and Peggy Jugis (Bishop Peter Jugis’ parents), Martin Opyrchal and Dorothy Reuss, the parish’s first secretary. (SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald)

Pastors of St. Vincent de Paul Church:

1961-1965 Monsignor Michael Begley, parish administrator

1965-1971 Father James Noonan

1971-1973 Monsignor John Roesche

1973-1975 Father Vincent Stokes

1975-1977 Father Joseph Waters

1977-1984 Monsignor William Wellein

1984-1991 Monsignor Felix Kelleher

1991-2001 Monsignor William Pharr

2001-2003 Father Mark Lamprich

2003-present Father Mark Lawlor

Important dates in the history of the parish:

Jan. 23, 1961

Bishop Vincent S. Waters of the Raleigh Diocese buys 8 acres on Old Reid Road.

Oct. 29, 1961

Bishop Waters dedicates St. Vincent Mission, a mission of St. Ann Church. Monsignor Michael Begley, pastor of St. Ann Church, assisted at Mass.

July 9, 1965

Bishop Waters proclaims St. Vincent de Paul a parish in its own right. Father James Noonan becomes the first pastor. The parish purchases a home on the corner of Old Reid Road and Colchester Place to serve as a rectory and office.


The parish adds a new wing to provide additional seating for Mass as well as class and meeting rooms, nursery and religious education office. The St. Vincent de Paul Society forms and begins a charitable outreach at the parish.


The Charlotte diocese ordains its first permanent deacons, and Deacons Gerald Hickey and John Charnisky begin serving St. Vincent de Paul parish. Father Peter J. Jugis (now Bishop Jugis) is also ordained as a priest.


Three Sisters come to serve the parish: Sister Rose Harmsen, ACJ (education and visitation); Sister Marian Arroyo, RSM (music and liturgy); and Sister Monica Perez, RSM (office and computer). Sister Monica continues in her position.


St. Vincent de Paul Parish meets in the newly-built activity center while a new church is built.

Feb. 27, 1999

Bishop William G. Curlin dedicates the new church.


A capital campaign kicks off to build a new facility to meet the growing needs of the parish and include a chapel for prayer, baptisms and other liturgies.

Oct. 15, 2011

Bishop Jugis celebrates the parish's 50th anniversary with a Mass and reception.

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Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at  parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte: