About Our Parish

Humble Beginnings

BISCOE -- When Our Lady of the Americas Church was founded in 1989, a multicultural outreach to the ever-growing Hispanic community in the Diocese of Charlotte was further strengthened.
Then-Bishop John F. Donoghue, along with Oblate Father Gerard Clarke, established the first Catholic church in Montgomery County. Among the local population were thousands of Hispanics, whose rich cultural and religious heritage is reflected and lived in Our Lady of the Americas Church.
Father Clarke, who had previously served as chaplain at the Hispanic Center in Charlotte, was designated administrator.
Bishop Donoghue dedicated and blessed the church in February 1990. Two Masses in Spanish, along with one in English, were scheduled originally. Since then, growth in the parish prompted the addition of a Saturday vigil Mass as well.
In an effort to promote the Hispanic culture and religious identification, Our Lady of the Americas Church was adorned with symbols: an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a large candle with many colored bands representing the flag colors of Hispanic peoples.
For Hispanics and Anglos, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is significant in that she was specified patroness of Latin America in 1910 by St. Pius X and patroness of the Americas by Pope Pius XII in 1945.
The emphasis on community is strong in the parish, with ethnic lines disappearing into a cooperative effort involving Hispanic and Anglo parishioners alike. Anglo parishioners, of which there are about 100, work side by side with their Hispanics brothers and sisters to maintain the church’s vitality.
Parish volunteers renovated the church building’s interior in 1992, and a group of retired parishioners maintains the church grounds and assumes the responsibility of church repairs.
The educational mission within Our Lady of the Americas Church is shared by volunteers through an active faith formation program taught in English and Spanish. Hispanic parishioners learn English at the church as well.
More than 2,000 immigrants have come to the area in the past 15 years. The Hispanic population in the area totals about 5,000.
Father Clarke served as administrator until 1997. Father Mark Lawlor served as administrator from 1997 until 1999. Following Father Lawlor’s administration, Father Fidel Melo served as administrator of Our Lady of the Americas Church from 1999 until 2001.
Father Ricardo Sanchez, a native of Costa Rica, has served as administrator of Our Lady of the Americas Church since 2001.
Once a sleepy little parish, Our Lady of the Americas Church is now home to approximately 1,000 Catholics. A mission of Our Lady of the Annunciation Church in Albemarle, the church's growth has demanded expansion and its new location is now one step closer to reality.
In 2005, a capital campaign was initiated to construct a permanent church building. A 15-acre plot of land was purchased in Candor, five miles east of Biscoe.
On April 9, 2005 Bishop Peter J. Jugis presided at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new church. The new wheelchair-accessible facility will include a 700-seat church, cry room, fellowship hall, offices, classrooms and columbarium.
The multicultural celebration was attended by several hundred of Montgomery County Catholics.
Staff Writer Karen A. Evans contributed to this story.

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