After 16 years, Our Lady of the Rosary Missionary Catholic Community is scheduled to move into a permanent home on Highway 39, north of Louisburg. Bishop Michael Burbidge attended the groundbreaking for the new church on March 7, and the congregation hopes to celebrate Christmas there. To quote Fr. Ryan Carnecer, CICM, resident priest at the church, “Yes, God does answer prayers, but in His own time!”
The Catholic Church in Franklin County
The presence of the Catholic Church in Franklin County began in the 40’s, when itinerant missionary priests gave catechism classes to the three young children in the Rabil family, and celebrated Sunday Mass in the living room of their home. Completion of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Wake Forest in the early 40’s marked the end of Sunday Mass in Louisburg, and Catholics traveled to Wake Forest or Henderson.
In addition to the handful of Catholic residents of Louisburg, there were Catholic students attending Louisburg College. The families reached out to them and provided transportation to Sunday Mass. This relationship continues into the present day, and students can call the church office for a ride to Sunday Mass.
In 1966, Mass was celebrated at Louisburg College for the first time, and soon the priests of St. Catherine of Siena began offering Sunday Mass regularly, with a break between 1985 and 1993.
Our Lady of the Rosary
In 1999, Bishop Joseph Gossman appointed Sister Elizabeth Bullen, IHM as Pastoral Administrator of the Louisburg community. It was then that they adopted the name “Our Lady of the Rosary.” To celebrate Mass, the growing community rented the school cafeteria on West River Road, setting up and breaking down the portable altar each Sunday. In 2007 they rented the current worship site at 460 Fox Park Road, a former dance studio. During this time a Priestly Minister was assigned to celebrate Sunday Mass.
In 2011, Bishop Burbidge assigned the priests of the Missionhurst CICM Missionaries to Our Lady of the Rosary, and they continued to grow and develop the church, which now has almost 300 registered families. Father John Raharjo, CICM, based at St. Eugene’s in Wendell, is the Pastoral Administrator, and Father Ryan is the resident Vicar. Under their guidance, with donations and fund-raising, help from the Diocese of Raleigh, the labor of many volunteers, and much prayer, the community is finally in a position to build a church.
Service to Franklin County
Our Lady of the Rosary serves Franklin County by sponsoring a Food Pantry, which serves 150 families; tutoring Elementary and Middle School students; providing assistance to individuals through an Outreach program; coordinating with Volunteers in Medicine; and conducting a summer Migrant Ministry for farm workers.