Our Parish History
Founded in a hotel room in 1915, Holy Family Catholic Church has grown and changed to become a worship-oriented church of the new millenium.
Fr. John Doherty, a Canadian priest on his way to a Florida retirement, discovered there was no catholic church in Elizabeth City. He celebrated a mass in his hotel room, therefore founding St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church. Later, St. Catherine's parish was founded in 1941 by the Society of St. Edmund to serve the black community of Elizabeth City. In 1978, the parish councils of both churches voted to merge into one combined parish of St. Elizabeth/St. Catherine's.
With the progression of time and growth of the community, it became apparent that the parish needed a much larger church. A ten- acre tract of land was purchased for $80,000, with the groundbreaking held on June 11, 1989.
Holy Family Church was officially born January 1, 1990. When we moved out of our former church. The last mass at St. Elizabeth's was December 31, 1989. It was six months before we were able to move into our present building and celebrate the first mass.
During our time of wandering, the Saturday Vigil Mass was celebrated at the Christ Episcopal church, our Sunday Mass at Moore Hall on the Elizabeth City State University Campus and our daily morning mass was held at Cann Presbyterian Church. CCD classes were held at the Elizabeth City State University Campus following the Sunday Mass.
The rectory was finished in the summer of 1990 and a temporary office established there until the Church building itself was finished.
The dedication of Holy Family Church was held on September 9, 1990, and an Ecumenical Service was held on September 16, 1990, with an open house for the local community. Our Pastor at this time was Fr. Briant Cullinane, O.F.M. Conventual, with the Associate pastors, Fr. Nicholas Weiss and Fr. Stanley Grubitz. Fr. Briant was also instrumental in finding acreage in the Currituck area and arranging for the diocese to purchase it for later use.
We were fortunate to have had several sizable donations; the 18 foot bronze cross on the exterior of the church, the San Damiano cross inside, the bronze flower pot, the Sanctuary lamp and the Corpus for the Processional Cross. At this time, we had found a set of Stations in the bell tower from the old Church and these were refinished and placed in the Waking Chapel. The bell was removed from the bell tower of the St. Elizabeth's Church and stored at Clifton and Clifton until a tower could be built for it.
On December 30, 1990, money for a bronze relief of the Holy Family was donated and this was placed in the gathering area. Then, a synthesizer was donated on August 26, 1991. Our Baptismal Font was also funded by donations and installed for use at the Easter Vigil Mass of 1992. Catechumens, H. L. Pritchard and Kim Ralph, were the first to be baptized in the new font.
Following Fr. Stanley Grubitz' death on November 26, 1990, a memorial was established for a statue to be placed in the courtyard area. A local artist, Wayne Earvin, assisted by his son, Jeffrey, designed, sculpted and set the statue of St. Francis in its present location and the first part of the sidewalk and garden was completed. The statue was blessed on May 17, 1992. Due to the efforts of two men in our parish, Bill Hogue and Small Olds, the wall surrounding the memorial garden was built and additional walkways laid. The benches, monuments and plants were all furnished by donations from individuals and groups within our parish. The headstone of our original parish (St. Elizabeth's) founder, Msgr. Doherty, was reset and his ashes interred in front of it. The memorial garden was dedicated on January 13, 1996. The Knights of Columbus donated the headstone for the unborn aborted babies and the dedication took place on September 19, 1996.
During Lent of 1993, donations were received and new Stations of the Cross were installed in the church. Later that year, a former parishioner visited the area and donated money for the relief of Mary with the Child Jesus, in the Waking Chapel. The original wrought iron vigil candleholder, from St. Elizabeth's, was given to Fr. Tom Davis who then arranged to have it refinished and purchased new votive holders for it. It was then placed in the Waking Chapel.
On January 1, 1995, Currituck Station held its first mass in a school in Currituck County. Later, masses were held at the Currituck Senior Center and a building fund was established. Faith Formation classes were started in September 1996 and in May 1997, three students made their First Communion there.
In th spring of 1996, the old bell from St. Elizabeth's was taken out of storage. A small brick stand to display the bell was contructed by Bill Hogue. also during that time, due to a special fundraising drive headed by Fr. Nestor and continued by Fr. Davis, the parking lot was paved.
The Secular Franciscan Order, St. Elizabeth of Hungary Fraternity, donated the framed dossals of St. Francis and St. Clare, which were blessed and placed in the Eucharistic Chapel in November 1996.
Father John Gillespie came to our parish in the late summer of 1997. Father Nick Cottrill is our current pastor. He is assisted by our parochial vicar, Father Alberto Ortega. With the guidance of our priests, our journey continues. Holy Family will continually evolve and transform itself to reflect the loving dedication of its community who volunteer their time, talents and energy.