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our history

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August 6, 2022 marked seven decades of a Catholic community in Wallace.  The Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama, Bishop of Raleigh, commemorated the occasion celebrating Mass with parishioners and guests.  A reception featuring a wide variety of international food followed.

The history of Catholicism in Duplin County dates back to the nineteenth century when small groups of faithful Catholics sought to preserve and spread the faith by gathering together.

In 1927, about seven miles west of Rose Hill on what is now NC 903, a small wooden chapel called St. Mary’s of the Woods was constructed to serve about 15 Catholic families in the area. Although the building is no longer there, the two towering oak trees between which it stood are.

Twenty-five years later, in 1952, this group, under the leadership of Mrs. Angelene Dixon and Mrs. Kathleen Cottle and with the help of Father John Harper, pastor at Immaculate Conception in Clinton, Transfiguration of Jesus Catholic Church was established in Wallace. It was so named because its establishment closely coincided with the Feast of the Transfiguration in August.

Initially Mass was held in the American Legion Hut but later was celebrated in a small room on the second floor of what is now known as the Lee Building on the corner of West Main and Northeast Railroad Streets.

A year later the Church purchased an old home where parish hall now stands. This home served as our church until 1965 when the present structure was built to serve a congregation which had grown from 15 members to 50 families.

Chosen by Father Robert McMahon, the Church design honors the various Indian tribes of North Carolina and is based on one built in Cherokee County. The current building was constructed at a cost of over $40,000, much of which was pledged by the members. Local news articles called the new building “indeed an asset to the Wallace community.” Bishop Vincent S. Waters, Bishop of Raleigh, dedicated the new church in June, 1965.

The old home was then used for meetings and religious education classes as well as Hispanic mission work until it became unserviceable in 1997. During the next two years, and with the help of a $60,000 grant from the Catholic Extension Society, the parishioners raised $237,000 for the new Parish Center. Ground breaking and construction began in the spring of 1999 and the new facility was opened in January, 2000, just days before a rare North Carolina snowstorm.

Transfiguration of Jesus Catholic Church, formerly a mission of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Burgaw, was erected as a parish on June 28, 2012. Santa Clara Catholic Church in Magnolia is our mission.

Much of our growth to over 160 families has occurred since 2000. Activities focus on faith, hope and charity and offer a number of ministry opportunities for the active, diverse congregation.

In conjunction with the Diocese of Raleigh, Transfiguration of Jesus Catholic Church serves the people of our community through affiliation with local outreach programs and community events. We also host a Hispanic community and welcome all to our Church home.

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