Advice on Wilmington, NC

I’m not sure if this is the best forum to ask this question in, but the only similar questions that I found are also in this forum. I am going to be moving to Wilmington, North Carolina at the end of the summer. I’m starting a new job teaching at the university there. Does anybody have any suggestions or advice about the area? What about the Diocese of Raleigh? I would really like to find a parish that is vibrant and orthodox. Occasionally, I want to hear homilies that address those subjects that are sometimes shied away from. Is there anywhere that has perpetual adoration nearby? Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks and God Bless.


Dear papaspicy,

At this time, I am not that familiar with the city of Wilmington, NC in answer to your question about finding a parish faithful to the Magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church, but I know one in Raleigh, NC, that matches your question for orthodox teaching.

It is “St. Joseph’s Catholic Church” in Raleigh at this website:

In answer to your question about nearby parishes with “Perpetual Adoration,” the nearest parish I know of to Wilmington, NC, is also in Raleigh at “Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church” which has Perpetual Adoration and this parish’s website is:

I hope that the above is some help to you. Although Raleigh is not really “close” geographically to Wilmington, NC, the two cities are connected by “Interstate - 40” which makes driving convenient.

I have been a Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Raleigh for almost forty-two years and was ordained in Wilmington at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

It is sad that one has to ask for help in finding an orthodox Catholic parish, but I agree that sometimes this is the case. I hope and pray with the passage of time, all of our priests will rediscover that obedience to the Magisterium is not “oppression” (as the devil would have us believe) but is a “virtue” and obedience was the theme song of Jesus’ whole life Who said, “I have come not to do My will but the will of Him Who sent Me.” The same was true of Mary, His Majesty’s beautiful Mother who said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.”

Neither were interested in “self-fulfillment” but in fulfilling the holy will of God the Father. This brought about the redemption of the whole world and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

If I can be of assistance in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I live about a two and a half hour drive from Wilmington near Carthage, NC.

In the meantime, may I wish you as a North Carolinian, a warm welcome to the Wilmington, NC area, and to the Diocese of Raleigh, NC where we have a new and vibrant Bishop who is a blessing to us in the Diocese of Raleigh.

In His Joy,

Father Ken

St. Joseph’s is a wonderful parish! If you want specific information about it feel free to email me privately.

You might also be interested in Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dunn. They offer a Traditional Latin Mass every Sunday afternoon. I haven’t been there yet, but I hear it is very nice.

Raleigh and Dunn are both about 2 hours away from Wilmington.

I lived in Wilmington, NC for 10 years (though 4 of those I lived in Raleigh for college) and can probably help you out, though my information will be somewhat dated. None of the parishes in Wilm. are what I would call “over the top” in either direction- traditional/orthodox vs progressive/liberal.

St. Joseph’s in Raleigh would be a 2 hr drive from most places in Wilmington, but I agree it is a beautiful parish, though not the most beautiful church building. Msgr. Williams, the pastor there, is truly a living saint. He did my and my husband’s marriage preparation.

St. Joseph the Worker is closer to Wilmington (about 30 minutes, though I can’t remember the name of the city it’s in), and the priest there- Fr. Tim Meares- is very, very traditional. He wears his cassock almost exclusively. If you meet him, ask about his conversion story. Miraculous! My family was very fond of him.

St. Mary’s downtown is where I went to Catholic middle school. The school was mediocre in both academics and religion when I attended, but a lot of changes have taken place since I went there 15 years ago or so. The church is beautiful, but I really can’t offer any advice about the parish since the only priest I knew there has since retired. Last I heard, things were becoming disconcertingly questionable, but I really don’t even know if that priest is still there. A family friend of ours became very good friends with the hispanic parochial vicar there, who seems sound.

Immaculate Conception down in Carolina Beach was/is a middle of the road type parish. It is served by the Oblates of St. Francis DeSales, not the diocese of Raleigh. Sadly, it was directly impacted by the scandals. The priest there is friendly enough, as are the parishoners. It is not, however, a shining beacon of traditional orthodoxy. Like I said, middle of the road.

St. Mark’s near Landfall (a very posh, gated neighborhood with golf courses where celebrities live) is another middle of the road parish. My mother attended daily Mass here, and of course most of the daily Mass goers are more or less orthodox. There are liturgical abuses, but we overlooked these enough to make it our home parish. It is where my husband and I were married. They have a very vibrant music program with both traditional-ish and more progressive choirs. The parochial vicar, Fr. Pat, is a really warm, traditional priest. Fr. Matt, the long-time pastor, is a bit more progressive but willing to field criticism.

St. Therese at Wrightsville Beach is a small parish actually located on Wrightsville beach. When I first moved there, it was extremely traditional, but after that priest retired and passed away, a somewhat more liberal priest was assigned there, and then ended up having to deal with some health concerns. I really couldn’t say what the climate is like now.

If you send me a PM, I can probably put you in touch with friends who are still in the area who can give you a more current assessment, even to make a few friends:). I can also tell you a lot about public schools. Go Vikes!

As for the diocese, Bishop Burbidge (sp?) appears to be making a lot of progress toward renewed orthodoxy throughout the diocese.

We visit Wilmington several times a year as our son lives there. When we’re there, we go to St. Marks. We haven’t noticed any significant liturgical abuses when we’re there, and believe me, I look! It’s a modern church with a Blessed Sacrament chapel adjacent to the church, but very open and connected. It’s not off in a corner somewhere! We like it there.


Examples (not necessarily liturgical) I experienced while attending regularly:
Poor management of Extraordinary Ministers- too many, some people who could cause scandal, and not enough control over people who lack dexterity to distribute the blood (it was being spilled frequently by a wonderful, pious older man).

Misinformation by the priest regarding birth control

Breaking of the consecrated host while elevated, allowing body crumblets to spill all over the altar and floor around it to be trampled.

Inappropriate burial of cremains in the garden outside the main church

Some church staff members, particularly in the youth ministry area, not being great role models

A lesbian couple in choir giving one another massages in view of the entire congregation (one of them finally moved away, thank God)

A general “progressive” attitude among the congregation. During our tenure, we had several very traditional, wonderful parochial vicars (including Fr. Meares) assigned to the church. Both of them, I believe, were inexplicably moved to other parishes before the end of their term because they were not well accepted by the members.

Thank you all for your comments… wait… I should rephrase - Thank y’all for y’all’s comments.
I have truly missed the south, having lived in Michigan and thereaboots too long. :smiley:


Wilmington is a gorgeous city! I want to retire to that area when my husband is finished with his military career. By then, I hope to have that PhD in English… :wink:

We lived in Fayetteville for a bit, and we drove to Wilmington on the weekends. The beaches there are great, and the mall is nice too.

We weren’t a Catholic family at the time, so I can’t vouch for that aspect of your question. I do however know that the area there is just beautiful.

Make sure you head over to the battleship(?) USS North Carolina and give it a tour.

I am a current resident of Wilmington, NC and a parishioner of St. Mary Catholic Church. We have a new priest, Fr. Bob Kus from St. Catherine of Sienna. He’s a great priest! Our Masses have been growing so much recently that we will add two new Mass times this year! Currently, we have 5:30 Sat. Vigil Mass, which is our Gospel Mass. Sunday AM we have the 8:30 “Folk Mass” with a wonderful Juliard-trained pianist, Barbara Gallagher. This Mass will move to 8:00 AM beginning the last Sunday of August. The next Mass is at 11:00 AM, complete with traditional music by Sam Burke, our very talented organist/choirmaster. This Mass time will remain the same. We will add a Mass at 9:30 AM on Sundays beginning the last weekend in August as well. We have a Spanish Mass ato 1:00 PM on Sundays, and, in November, will add a second Spanish Mass at 7:00 PM on Saturday nights. It’s a vibrant parish, no liturgical abuses, great sermons and music for any taste. In addition, we have a great Catholic Bookstore - the only one in 150 miles - with all] proceeds going back into church ministries!

We also have an Adult School for language classes, art, music, sign language and bible studies run by Judi Paparozzi.

Finally, St. Mary puts their money where their mouth is, following Christ’s commandment to “Feed my sheep.” -courtesy of the hard work of Sr. Isaac Koenig and her Social Outreach ministry. Food pantry, clothing, household goods, a full medical clinic and dental clinic allow you to participate in helping the disadvantaged of our community.

Give us a try - you might find just what you’re looking for at St. Mary!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit