Seeking Sainthood for Father Thomas F. Price, First Tar Heel-Born Catholic Priest

Father Thomas PriceThe Catholic Diocese of Raleigh plans to seek the beatification and canonization of Reverend Thomas Frederick Price, the first North Carolinian to become a Catholic priest. Born in Wilmington in 1860, Price joined the priesthood at the age of 26. From 1886 to 1910 he served Catholics in such eastern North Carolina towns and settlements as Goldsboro, New Bern, Chinquapin and Halifax. In 1899 Price helped establish an orphanage for boys at Nazareth, a small community near Raleigh. He joined with Reverend James A. Walsh, a Boston priest, to establish The Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America in 1911. More commonly known as the Maryknolls, the group was the first missionary order established by the Catholic Church in the U.S. The Maryknolls’ first missions were to Hong Kong and other areas in southern China. Price died there in 1919 after undergoing an operation for appendicitis.

The Maryknolls published a short biography about Price in 1923. Price was also the subject of John C. Murret’s Tar Heel Apostle, Thomas Frederick Price : Co-founder of Maryknoll, published in 1944. An abridged version of Murret’s biography of Price was published in 1953. NC Catholics magazine featured a profile of Price in its January/February 2011 edition.

The inquiry that could lead to the beatification and canonization of Price is expected to take several years.