St. Philip the Apostle
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History of St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church

Compiled by Jason Savage


The Holy Mass of the Roman Catholic Church was first offered up to the Lord in 1870 by Father Mark Gross of Greensboro. This Mass was said at J.L.P. Rouche's home at 804 Caldwell Street. The chest of drawers sitting in the present day church lobby was the first altar of the Catholic Church in Statesville.

Mr. Rouche was Catholic, his wife Molly Clarke Rouche was Protestant. Their children were raised Catholic. Their daughter, Margaret Rouche married Walter Lee Cutting. They had six children, one of which is the oldest surviving member of the first Catholic Church, Louise Cutting. For approximately 30 years, Mass was said at the Rouche homestead about once a month.

In 1898, a chapel was built at the corner of Sharpe and Tradd Streets. It was built in the memory of Philip Barton Key, a descendant of Francis Scott Key, from his widow, Anna Washington Thorton Key. St. Philip was chosen as the patron saint. It was dedicated on January 20, 1901 and was served by the Southern Benedictine Society until 1933.

Between 1908 and 1924, Mass was celebrated several times a year. In 1924 Mass was celebrated bimonthly. In 1933, the Benedictine relinquished the church to the diocese of Raleigh. Franciscan Fathers from Lenoir served the church at this time. In 1941, the Franciscans built a friary on West Front Street. It was staffed by two Franciscan priests, and a lay brother. Father Arnold Waters was the first pastor. Father Remy Goudreau later assisted.

The Diocese of Raleigh bought the former St. John's Lutheran Church on the corner of Mulberry and West Front streets. They renamed the church St. Pius X. The increase of Catholics in North Carolina necessitated the split of the Diocese of Raleigh to form two dioceses in North Carolina. The new diocese formed was the Diocese of Charlotte.

Because of the increase of membership in the St. Pius X congregation, a three-phase program of construction was proposed in October 1977. Phase 1 of this plan was a parish center located at Harmony and Camden drives. This was dedicated on December 3, 1978. The parish center contains an auditorium, 10 classrooms, two recreation rooms, a cry room, a reconciliation room, a kitchen, and an office. Several of the classrooms also serve another purpose. A chorus room, a nursery, and a small library is also housed in some of the classrooms. The parish center was used as a sanctuary from 1978 until 1995. The church was renamed St. Philip.

Phase 2 of the program was a rectory. It was completed in 1979.

Phase 3 did not start until April 1, 1994 with the ground breaking of the new church. It was dedicated on October 22, 1995.