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Charlotte priest lives out vocation at senior living community

A local priest continues to serve after retirement but to a much more intimate congregation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Every Sunday morning at The Barclay at SouthPark, Father Frank O'Rourke celebrates mass with about 25 people.

After retiring from priesthood after 47 years, the last 12 at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte, O'Rourke moved into the senior living community two years ago.

"All of us are at least 80 or almost 80 and 80 plus," O'Rourke said. "I participate in life here, just day-to-day life, just like anybody else, interacting with one another."

Father Frank, as he's affectionately referred to, told WCNC he always felt like his life has been about gathering people together. When he moved into Briar Creek Health enter at The Barclay, he offered to continue offering mass on-site, a convenience for many residents.

"If people are sick around here, I go visit them," O'Rourke said.

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With word out of the priest's Sunday service, residents started attending mass in a larger common room rather than the small chapel.

O'Rourke said being there for everyone regardless of faith, helps him live out his own vocation.

"We're all journeying together. It's nice being part of the community when you're feeling a part of it and I do," he said.

Executive Director, Carol Cyr, told WCNC Charlotte that Barclay is non-denominational and welcomes those of all faiths. 

Cyr added it is a continuing care retirement community.

She explained, "We have residents who live in Independent living apartments as well as assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing apartments all under one roof."

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