Join us on July 28 at 6:30pm for a picnic (bring your own), kickball, and "A Dog's Purpose" family-friendly movie in Hampstead.

About Our Parish

Discover the story of All Saints parish, from 1953 to today and the future.
Click on this YouTube link to see parishioners recollect the hope, hearts, and hands that established All Saints parish -- from a charming chapel by the sea where the sounds of waves mixed with worship music to a growing parish community spanning two campuses and about 1,000 families. Hear what's envisioned for the future as well.

 

When asked what makes All Saints parish feel like home, the answer over and over has been, "It's the people." We are sorry it was not possible to include every photo and interview in our one-hour documentary. All of these helped to shape the telling of our parish story.  Thanks to everyone!

Humble Beginnings

When looking at the past, present, and future of All Saints Catholic Church, two words consistently describe the life and times of this parish – growth and transformation.

All Saints Catholic Church originally started as St. Mary Gate of Heaven located on Topsail Island in Surf City, North Carolina -- a charming little church by the sea where the sacred sound of prayer and music blended with the sound of the ocean just beyond the dunes. In many ways, this description still resonates today.

The Surf City campus sits on land that was purchased in 1947 by Vincent Waters, Bishop of Raleigh. The first Mass was celebrated on August 23, 1953 by Fr. Roland Gross, Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFM Conv), in a building that was once a World War II military barracks (purchased from Camp Davis in Holly Ridge and moved to Surf City). As a “mission church,” St. Mary Gate of Heaven was a definite community of Christian faithful entrusted to a priest as its proper pastor, but it was not seen as permanent; it was a temporary entity on its way, eventually, to becoming a parish. Initially entrusted as a mission church to St. Joseph’s in Burgaw, St. Mary Gate of Heaven was later, in 1970, entrusted to St. Stanislaus in nearby Castle Hayne. 

Often attendance overflowed the church structure, especially when Catholics vacationing on Topsail Island joined local Catholics on Sunday for Mass. Eventually, cameras were installed and television screens were placed outside to accommodate worshipers who came with beach chairs and blankets to celebrate Mass.  

Growing Through Change

By the early 1990s, a new church, St. Jude the Apostle Parish - also initially a “mission church” of St. Joseph’s in Burgaw - was established on the mainland in Hampstead across the Intracoastal Waterway from Topsail Island and Surf City. Because of the climate, the nearby beaches, local golf courses, and affordable housing, Hampstead had become a popular retirement community attracting many transplants. Initially, Mass at St. Jude the Apostle was held in the Topsail High School cafeteria or in parishioners’ homes. 

Our 15-acre Hampstead campus was purchased by the Diocese of Raleigh through the Land Grant Program and the generosity of the surrounding Catholic parishes of St. Mark, St. Stanislaus, St. Joseph, St. Therese, Transfiguration, and St. Mary Gate of Heaven. In the fall of 1994, Bishop F. Joseph Gossman approved a capital campaign to build the church. Funds were raised and on September 29, 1996 a multipurpose building was completed. The church was officially dedicated as a parish by Bishop Gossman on October 27, 1996. 

Shortly thereafter, St. Mary Gate of Heaven became a “mission church” of St. Jude the Apostle Parish. Rev. Casimir Sabol, OFM Conv, presided over the faithful at both locations.

Throughout North Carolina, Franciscans had been serving the Diocese of Raleigh since it was established in 1924, but in 1999 they concluded their long presence in the Cape Fear Deanery. After Rev. Sabol suffered a stroke in January 1998, Bishop Gossman chose a diocesan priest, Rev. Terrance Collins, to become the new pastor of this coastal parish. Rev. Collins was a good fit for this new parish. Father Terry came from the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he had served as pastor for multiple churches along that 200-mile stretch of barrier beach.

In the Hampstead area from Porters Neck to Sneads Ferry, the Catholic population has grown significantly from the 1990s through present day. The demographics in the area have also changed considerably. Today Hampstead is no longer just a retirement community, and Topsail Island is no longer a little-known vacation spot.

Seeking affordable housing, lower taxes, and a quality lifestyle, Catholic families of all ages are relocating into the area -- some from close-by Wilmington and others from out of state. Following 9-11-01 the military population also grew considerably at Camp Lejeune and New River in nearby Jacksonville, resulting in an influx from all over the country of Catholic families needing religious services. 

Meanwhile our Surf City campus was becoming compromised by the beach environment and weather. To maintain Masses and to accommodate the increasing attendance by seasonal vacationers, renovations were made in 1996. An outdoor pavilion with an altar and sound system was added to protect the assembly from inclement weather, and interior improvements were accomplished.

One measure of growth in a Catholic community is the size of the parish faith formation program. The multipurpose building on the mainland - with its classrooms - provides religious education classes for both churches. In 1999 there were 32 children in the program. Growing significantly each year, the faith formation program now edifies more than 180 children. Each year the challenge intensifies for the Faith Formation Director and the catechists as they struggle to find space to properly teach their students. The multipurpose building is rapidly becoming an inadequate space, not only to provide the needs of religious education programs but also the growing space needs of ministries and organizational activities conducted at the parish throughout the year.

Looking to the Future

By 2010, Surf City building was no longer suitable to hold Mass indoors. To accommodate for the space loss during cooler off-season months, a third weekend Mass was added to the Hampstead campus schedule from autumn through spring. Weekend outdoor Masses continue from Memorial Day to Labor Day at Surf City in our special pavilion. In order to cover all five Masses at both campuses, visiting priests are invited to vacation on Topsail Island in a parish-owned condominium and to celebrate Mass at both campuses, providing them with a little rest and relaxation and providing us with clergy needed to manage both campuses.

When Rev. Collins retired in January 2012, Bishop Michael Burbidge appointed Rev. John Durbin as pastor of this parish. Rev. Durbin has been a priest since 1979. He moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania in 1985 and has served throughout the Diocese of Raleigh -- at St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Cary, the Newman Catholic Student Center in Chapel Hill, St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fayetteville, and St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill.

Transformation and growth define the evolution of this parish over the past several decades. Since Rev. Durbin’s arrival, many more modifications have taken place to address the immediate needs of the parish and the surrounding communities. In May 2014, Bishop Burbidge approved our administrative merger to officially combine the two campuses into one. Parishioners were invited to help rename the churches as one and many excellent suggestions were made. The top 10 options were voted upon, and Bishop Burbidge approved our name change to All Saints.

All Saints continues to grow and thrive with many new spiritual, service, and fellowship activities being added annually. All are welcome to our parish and to participate in any of the Masses and activities.

 

 

Watch a slide show of memorable moments in the formation of All Saints parish.

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in support of the parish vision for the future, started by our dedicated founders and predecessors.

Who helped make our film?
The project has been headed up by Jack G. Kelly, who retired as Senior Producer after 34 years with CBS News.
UNCW interns Joe Day and Jake Hart handled audio and video production. Meagan Wummel edited all the pieces into our final finished product. Office volunteers and staff coordinated the many interviews. Several parishioners shared photos from their archives as well.
Featured Interviewees:
Rev. John G. Durbin, Pastor
Fr. Terrence (Terry) Collins, Retired
Fr. Richard A. Bay
Barbara Amatruda, Rosemarie Bonk, Don Bray, Hal & Alice Corzine, John Costantino, Will & Carole Evans, Sal Ferrotti, John & Diane Fischer, Jim & Beth Fortunato, Jack Gallagher, Bill & Doris Gnadt, Ginger Hand, Robert Julius, Dottie Karika, Mary Keesee, Dory Maier, Ed Mennona, Ed & Joan Miller, Joanne Morris, Jean B.F. Newberry, Ralph & Mildred Pascucci, Rebecca Rider-Yopp, Tom Schroder, Jack & Peg Strenkowski, John Vitello, Dottie Wanzor.
Special thanks to
Diocese of Raleigh
St. Stanislaus Catholic Church
Roland Berube, Lisa Biso, Dawn Brannan, Cheryl Breasett, Allen & Dolores Brown, Ed & Gisela Charboneau, Frieda Coyle, Ines Cuadrado, Jim & Evie Dyer, Joe Engeman, Tom & Julia Johnston, Dorothea Jordan, Edwina Karpells, Jack & Ann McDowell, Anne Meyers, Terrance F. Morris, Robert & Dorothea Norris (model), Myles & Barbara Quinn, Catherine Rice, Damaris Sayce, June Schroder, Andra Sheridan, Jim Walsh
 

 

Do have any stories about our parish history you would like to share?  Send us your story - Click here 

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