In 1997, Bishop Joseph Gossman appointed Father Donald Staib to begin a new parish in Apex. Father Staib’s first task was to work with pastors of St. Andrew’s and St. Michael’s in Cary to build two new Catholic elementary schools.
In 1997, the three pastors and committees of lay people began work with architects to design the buildings, establish curriculum and guidelines for the schools and form a search committee for two principals. The next task was to raise funds for the construction. Ground was broken for the two new schools on June 6, 1999. One school was built on the campus of St. Michael’s and the second school became the beginning of our parish.
When it came time for the groundbreaking, a name was needed for the parish. Father Staib had asked various groups and individuals for suggestions but no strong contenders were proposed. Father Staib strongly favored a Biblical name and suggested Mary Magdalene to Bishop Gossman. There are no other Catholic churches in North Carolina with this name.
In the New Testament, Mary Magdalene is mentioned four times: she was healed by Jesus of an affliction; she and other women supported Jesus and the Apostles in their ministry; she stood with Jesus’ mother at the cross; she was the first witness to Jesus’ Resurrection. Because she took the news of the Resurrection to the Apostles she is often called “Apostle to the Apostles.”
St. Mary Magdalene Parish began to hold Sunday Mass at Apex Middle School. The first Mass was celebrated on September 12, 1999. On December 5, three months later, a second Mass was added.
Our new building was completed, and Bishop Gossman came to bless the St. Mary Magdalene campus at Mass on Sunday, August 13, 2000. In keeping with the background of St. Mary Magdalene, the street address for the parish is Magdala Place; Magdala is the town in the Holy Land from which Mary of Magdala came. By August 2000 the Parish had grown to over 200 families. A Saturday Mass was added to the weekend schedule on October 14, 2000.
The school principal, Bob Cadran, had worked for the previous year in hiring faculty, ordering furniture and equipment for the school and watching over the final process of the school construction. The colors of the parish and school, burgundy and gray with gold accents, and the mascot, the St. Mary Magdalene Monarchs, were chosen at this time.
In the early years of the school, St. Mary Magdalene School and St. Michael the Archangel School in Cary were governed by a Board appointed from the three parishes who supported the two schools. The third parish was St. Andrew the Apostle in Apex. Today the two schools operate independently.
St. Mary Magdalene School opened for class in September 2000 with an enrollment of 330 students in Grades Pre-K through 8th grade. It was a unique experience for the students; they had never been in the building and never met their teachers or administrators and many had never worn school uniforms before. It did not take long for them to get used to their new surroundings.
St. Mary Magdalene is most grateful to all its members and those in the parishes of St. Andrews and St. Michaels who contributed to Campaign 2000 to fund the incredible beginning of our Parish.
In October 2001, the Parish began a second fundraising campaign, “God’s Work ~ Our Challenge” to raise funds to meet the growing needs of our Parish and School and groundbreaking for a second building was held in March of 2003. The new building added additional classrooms, adult meeting rooms, a chapel, a dining hall, and a gymnasium which was also used as our worship space. The building was dedicated by Bishop Gossman on September 19, 2004.
By the summer of 2005, we had grown to over 1000 families and baptized nearly 400 children in our Parish.
On July 15, 2017, the new St. Mary Magdalene Church was dedicated by Bishop-elect Ned E. Schlesinger who is now the Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta, GA and a former priest in the Diocese of Raleigh. We celebrated our first Back-to-School Mass in the new church on August 13, 2017.
The school has grown from its initial enrollment of 330 to between 620 and 700 students annually. The parish has over 1800 registered families and there are close to 100 baptisms each year. We were thrilled to realize that there were several StMM school alumni among the first weddings in our new church. We have a vibrant church and school community!