Pioneering Spirit

The History of St. Benedict Catholic Church
From Inception to Restoration

There have been a remarkable number of religious vocations from this small parish. All the stained-glass images in the book are photos of the windows at St. Benedict.
Bob Nutt refinished and painted this pieta found whitewashed in St. Benedict's basement.
St. Benedict parishioners pray the Perpetual Novena of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Hundreds of soldiers attended Mass at St. Benedict in the fall of 1941.
The concept for Room At The Inn, a shelter for homeless, pregnant women in Greensboro, began at St. Benedict.
Monsignor Joseph Showfety was baptized at the parish in 1927 and returned in the late 1990s as pastor before retiring. Because of his firsthand accounts, Monsignor Showfety helped make this history very lively. The brief history he compiled as pastor was also indispensible in the creation of this book.
The book brought back a lot of wonderful memories for Monsignor Joseph Showfety who was baptized and schooled at the parish. He signed a copy for me.

The pastoral council of St. Benedict Catholic Church hired me to write the history of their parish in 2017. The book, Pioneering Spirit, was completed in 2019 and released in February 2020. Here is an excerpt from the preface:

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
— St. Paul to the Ephesians, 2: 19 – 22

This history was written to commemorate the authentic and rather auspicious restoration of St. Benedict Catholic Church. In the 1870s, Greensboro was a new frontier for Catholics who were moving to the city. Not only was it difficult to practice the faith without a church building, Catholicism was wholly unfamiliar and often unwelcome in the Protestant South. However, through the sacrifice and perseverance of the city’s first Catholics and traveling Benedictine monks, a church was built and a vibrant Catholic community was born.

As the Catholic mother church of Greensboro, St. Benedict has nurtured that community for more than a century, crossing racial boundaries during its early years at the behest of its wealthy benefactress turned saint. Later, the parish became home to the Daughters of Charity, the source of the city’s blossoming Marian devotion, a seedbed for religious vocations, and a source of spiritual consolation and fortification to servicemen entering the Second World War. The church has long been known for its charity toward the city’s poor and anyone seeking God and authentic Catholic Christianity.

The ingenuity, faith, and love of those pioneering Catholics have lived on in the ensuing generations of parishioners. These virtues manifested themselves in a monumental way in 2017 as pastor Father James Duc Duong, Tom Garcia, and many others united to restore the church themselves. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the watchful eye of the parish’s patron saint, the restoration retained the holiness steeping within the church since its construction and reclaimed the interior’s original beauty. Its renewed majesty is a visual cue for a deeper reality: The Spirit is indeed at home here, beckoning God’s people into a closer relationship with their loving Creator.

To order a copy of the book, please contact St. Benedict Catholic Church at stbenedictgreensboro@charlottediocese.org or 336-272-0303.

Book Signing at St. Benedict's Parish Hall in February 2020
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