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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

101317 st gabesCHARLOTTE — In a humble brick building 60 years ago, 175 families gathered to celebrate the first Mass at St. Gabriel Church. The property had been purchased for just $100 and was a mile outside of Charlotte’s 1957 city limits. Consecrated to the service of God and named after the Archangel Gabriel, the parish has seen remarkable growth and changes in its six decades.

Within just 20 years, the parish population swelled to 1,400 families and was the largest in North Carolina. A church expansion, and later a significantly bigger church and other campus buildings, accommodated the growth. Today, more than 3,330 families call St. Gabriel home, with seven Sunday Masses, more than 80 ministries, and 1,050 children in its faith formation program.

On a beautiful evening last month, the parish celebrated its 60th anniversary with a special Mass and food truck picnic. The Sept. 23 liturgy featured all five of St. Gabriel’s choirs, including its adult and youth choirs, New Spirit Ensemble, Alegria Hispanic choir and handbell choir. Joyous hymns in English and Spanish reflected the diversity of the parish and underscored that St. Gabriel Parish belongs to all.

Homilist Deacon Michael Goad noted, “How far we have come and yet as a church how much there is for us yet to do in our Father’s vineyard. To whom much is given, much is required. Whether you’ve just joined St. Gabriel or whether you’re a founding member, this is your church, this house of God is your home. May the Holy Spirit continue to lead and guide us. May we be worthy of our calling as a people of God and of God’s continued blessings upon us. And may Almighty God complete the work He has begun in each one of us and in those we seek to serve.”

After Mass, parishioners young and old enjoyed a food truck picnic in the church’s courtyard with many staying well past sunset. Father Gabriel Carvajal-Salazar, parochial vicar, and Alegria choir leader Manuel Esquivel entertained with accordion and guitar, and “selfies with the Archangel Gabriel” were popular for all ages.

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“A truly glorious celebration” and “We should do this again!” were sentiments echoed by many.

In reflecting on the parish’s 60th anniversary, Father Frank O’Rourke, pastor, shared, “How blessed we are to join as a community of faith in celebrating our parish’s 60th anniversary. Under the patronage of the Archangel Gabriel, we – and those who came before us – are invited to be messengers of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

101317 st gabe mass“With gratitude, we reflect on our humble beginnings in a small brick building, where a cafeteria table served as the altar for the 175 families who gathered for Mass. Today, we are a vibrant parish of 3,335 families with numerous ministries that connect us and help us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

“What a legacy we share! I know you join me in giving thanks to the Lord for the generosity of Spirit evident in all who worship, serve and seek to grow in faith in our parish of St. Gabriel. Truly, the Holy Spirit continues to gather the faithful here!

“May we keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts as we answer the call to ‘go out to all the world to tell the Good News’ (Mark 16:15). We count ourselves blessed in the legacy that is ours. May we, too, ‘proclaim the greatness of the Lord’ (Luke 1:46) in this, our time.”

— Darby McClatchy, special to the Catholic News Herald. Darby McClatchy is the communications coordinator at St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte.





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