Montlieu Chapel History


Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church

The first Mass in High Point was celebrated in 1903, when Catholics gathered with a priest in a local home.

When land was donated to build a church, the Benedictine priests of Belmont Abbey joined fund-raising efforts to begin the construction project. Work began in 1907, and in September of that year, Benedictine Abbot Leo Haid dedicated the new church, placing it under the patronage of St. Edward.

It was that small mission community that would later become Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

With the Diocese of Raleigh established in 1924, St. Edward Church was placed under diocesan administration. A home and property -- the site of the future Immaculate Heart of Mary Church -- were bought in 1928. Father John Manley lived in the home for a short period as St. Edward Church's first pastor.


Another building project began in 1942. Under the direction, and with the support of Bishop Vincent Waters of Raleigh, a new church and school were constructed. Bishop Waters dedicated the new facilities in October 1947, placing them under the patronage of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Pa., staffed the school from its founding until 1987. The on-site home that had served as a rectory since the late 1920s was converted for use as a convent. Meanwhile, Father Robert MacMillan -- the eighth pastor of St. Edward Church and founding pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church -- took residence at a newly purchased home on Barbee Street.

The congregation has continued to grow steadily since the new parish came into existence. Periodic additions to and renovations of the church and school have been needed to accommodate the growth, including the construction of an eight-classroom educational wing for the school, and the removal of two meeting room walls to allow for more worship space in the church.

In June 1968, the rectory burned, forcing the move of the pastor to the convent. The Sisters relocated to nearby Maryfield Nursing Home's guesthouse. A new convent was dedicated in 1970, followed by a rectory in 1981.

Diocesan priests ministered to the parish until 1989, when Oblates of St. Francis de Sales priests arrived in High Point. Oblate Father Joseph Zuschmidt became pastor and Oblate Father David Delvin became parochial vicar.

In 1992, a demographic study of the parish and expected growth provided the foundation for a 20-year plan that called for the parish to build a new church on land more centrally located for the growing congregation.

A new sanctuary was the centerpiece of the plan, which also included several future buildings. In the spring of 1996, the parish purchased a tract of land on Johnston Street and Skeet Club Road, and a capital campaign was underway by October.

On Oct. 26, 1997, the congregation recognized its 50th anniversary as a parish with a special Mass and other celebrations.

Ground was broken for the new church in September 2000, and construction was completed in December 2001. Parishioners celebrated Mass for the first time in the new sanctuary on Dec. 24, and Bishop William G. Curlin formally dedicated the new sanctuary Feb. 2, 2002,

The new church, built to accommodate 800 worshipers, incorporates the "concept of life" through the stained glass windows, the altar and the tabernacle. Another unique feature of the church is the crucifix that can be closed to conceal the body of Christ, such as during Easter.

The church was designed so that it could be expanded to 1,200 people when needed. Currently, chairs are set up at some Masses to accommodate an extra 200 people.

Along with the new church, parishioners celebrate their community of faith. The parish's religious educational mission is a focal point, both at the church and the school, with programs serving hundreds of children and adults. Faith formation is run out of the old church facility.

In June 2002, Oblate Father John Kelly was appointed from parochial vicar to pastor.

The church continues toward the future, as conveyed in its mission statement, "to love GOD and our neighbor with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength."



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