DURHAM, N.C. — Immaculate Conception Church here concluded its celebration of “A Century of Witness” with a Mass on Dec. 9 celebrated by Bishop Michael Burbidge and a reception dinner for parishioners.
The parish, founded in 1906 by Fr. William “Billy” O’Brien, has been staffed by the Franciscan friars of HNP since 1996. In 2003, a new church was constructed, utilizing the original building. The old sanctuary was converted into a gathering space, daily Mass chapel and support area, which now leads into the larger sanctuary.
Today the parish serves more than 1900 families. Immaculata School, located on the church campus, has more than 420 students in grades pre-kindergarten through eight.
The Saturday Mass climaxed a year-long recognition of the parish’s history and its role in the history of Durham and surrounding communities. Among the concelebrants were Dan McLellan, pastor; David McBriar, pastor emeritus; William McConville, parochial vicar of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh; and Dominic Monti, Vicar Provincial of Holy Name Province.
“I’ve only been in Raleigh a short time,” Bishop Burbidge said, “but I’ve learned that this parish has a tremendous reputation throughout the diocese for reaching out to the poor, the marginalized and the hungry.”
In his homily, the bishop praised those efforts and encouraged the members of Immaculate Conception to carry their ideals into the parish’s second hundred years. “This centennial Eucharist is the perfect way to begin a second century of Gospel witness in the city of Durham,” said Dan.