Wake Forest, N.C. — While Catholic churches are closing in other parts of the U.S. because of declining members, the Catholic Church in North Carolina is experiencing record-setting growth.

A steady stream of parishioners pack the pews at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Wake Forest every Sunday.

“Coming from different places around the country, it was sort of a mediocre turnout, and we came here, and it just seems to grow and grow,” said Tom Ranaudo, who moved to the Triangle with his wife, Darlene, about a decade ago. “It’s really fantastic to see.”

The Ranaudos said the thriving Catholic Church in the region is more than just people moving to North Carolina.

“(It’s) God, for sure,” Tom Ranaudo said. “I think there is a renewed enthusiasm in the area. I think it is a very hopeful community, and I think that is contagious.”

St. Catherine’s has grown from 300 families in 1997, when it opened, to about 3,700 families today. The church had to move from its original building three years ago into a $9 million, 37,000-square-foot church.

“We’ve gone from an itty-bitty, 600-seat church to one that seats over 1,500,” said Janel Grossheim, who has been a parish member with her family since the church opened.

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