The Catholic Church in the Carolinas is vibrant and growing.
There has been an extraordinary explosion in the Catholic population continuing since the 1870’s, when the monks at Belmont Abbey first arrived and began serving the handful of Catholic families who migrated to the area.
A century later the Catholic population in the Charlotte region grew to over 34,000, enough to establish the new Diocese of Charlotte in 1972. By the end of 2001, it approached 87,000. By 2010 the number climbed to 174,000, not including an estimated 230,000 undocumented Latino Catholics.
Today, there are over 340,000 known Catholics in the diocese, ten times larger than when the diocese was first created less than 45 years ago. And this number is expected to continue its swift rise in the decades to come.
The Diocese of Charlotte encompasses three main areas of population: the Triad (Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem), Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and the mountains. Catholicism is now the largest single religious denomination in Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County.
This growth in the Diocese of Charlotte has been echoed in many other dioceses in the southeast, as Catholics from the northern states move south and Protestant populations convert in large numbers. Yet, this hasn’t corresponded to a growth in the number of southern seminaries to serve the burgeoning population of Catholics; there isn’t a minor seminary in the southeast between northern Virginia and southern Florida.
The need for priests to serve this growing population is great, and, providentially, the Diocese of Charlotte has been blessed with many young men who have responded generously to God’s call to the priesthood. Eighteen are currently in training, with another nine set to begin in the Fall of 2016.
For these seminarians, responding to God’s call currently means being sent for their first four years of formation to a minor seminary in a distant state. Looking at the growth of our diocese, and our current and future need for many more priests to serve it, now is the time for us to invest in recruiting and training these young men locally.
St. Joseph College Seminary working in conjunction with Belmont Abbey College is the ideal solution to create a fertile environment for their priestly vocation to develop, to train them with a dynamically orthodox formation, and to provide them with a home close to the people they will one day serve. And you can be a part of it. We invite you to join us in this mission!