Dr. John Carr Monk was born February 19, 1827. Practicing medicine in Newton Grove, he and his family attended Goshen Methodist Church. In the years of Reconstruction, following the Civil War, many of the local churches expelled the now free African-Americans, who formerly had attended as slaves. Dr. Monk objected greatly when such a resolution was adopted at his church and ceased attending. In the ensuing months, he reflected on the nature of Christianity and the Church; did Christ ever intend to found a Church? What would be the identifying marks of such a Church? In 1871, Dr. Monk came into possession of an article written by the Archbishop of New York, John McCloskey, published in the New York Herald (January 2, 1871), regarding the nature of the Catholic Church (i.e. one, holy, catholic and apostolic). He was interested enough to begin correspondence with Bishop James Gibbons of Wilmington, North Carolina. Through such correspondence and instruction, Monk came to the conclusion that Christ indeed intended to found a Church, and that the Church was the Catholic Church, still teaching the Apostolic Faith, and reaching out to people of every race and nation. He and his family were received into the Church on October 27, 1871. By 1874 a church had been built on land donated by Dr. Monk. This church was consecrated on August 11, 1874 by Bishop Gibbons.
Father Mark Gross was the first regular visitor to the parish, coming monthly from Wilmington. The parish was first named St. Mark’s in honor of this priest’s patron saint. The first resident pastor, Father Edward Meyer, O.S.B., came to Newton Grove in 1899. The Benedictines were replaced in 1901, with a priest of the Vicariate Apostolic, Father Patrick Quinn. He was followed by Father Michael A. Irwin (1904), who saw the parish through a period of much growth and expansion, until he was transferred to New Bern in 1928. The Redemptorist Fathers came in 1928, and served the parish they renamed Holy Redeemer, until 1953. After the departure of the Redemptorist Fathers, diocesan priests returned, and the parish was renamed Our Lady of Guadalupe by Bishop Vincent Waters. Excepting the years of the Holy Ghost Fathers (1974-1978), the priests of the Diocese of Raleigh have served the parish ever since. The Church property has seen many buildings built and razed, as well as many mission chapels established and closed. (The mission chapels at Clinton and Dunn are now separate parishes.) The current rectory was built in the early 1930’s. St. Mark’s Hall was acquired from the U.S. Army in 1948 and renovated in 1991. The restored church was dedicated by Bishop F. Joseph Gossman on April 26, 1987, and St. Katherine Drexel Hall was blessed by Father James F. Garneau on November 18, 1989. St. Mark’s school, an integrated school, was established at the parish in 1877, and was closed in 1954. Holy men and women have been part of this history. Among them are numbered Father Thomas F. Price, pastor from 1889 to 1895, and later founder of the Maryknoll Mission Society, and Saint Katherine Drexel, a benefactor over many years. She visited the parish in 1910. The parish has extended the Faith throughout the region, struggled with interracial issues, and been the focus of a new ministry among Latin American immigrants in the last 20 years. Whatever the future may present, the proud past of this Faith Community will provide a constant reminder of God’s loving constancy and providence. Like Dr. Monk, we recognize in the Catholic Faith all that is necessary to overcome human divisions and strife.