The Reverend Monsignor Peter Joseph McNerney
Fourth Pastor of St. Mary
1954 – 1959
The Reverend Monsignor Peter Joseph McNerney succeeded Msgr. Murphy in May of 1954. In the interim between Msgr. Murphy’s death and Msgr. McNerney’s succession, Fr. Philip J. O’Mara managed the parish.
Msgr. McNerney was born on April 12, 1904 in County Longford, part of the Midlands Region in central Ireland, to Michael McNerney and Anne Sheriton. Peter left Ireland in 1925 aboard the passenger ship Baltic and arrived in New York City on October 19, 1925.
After completing his theological studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, Peter was ordained a priest by Bishop William J. Hafey in 1928. During his priesthood, Fr. McNerney was given the honor of being named a Monsignor.
Msgr. McNerney served as the Fourth Pastor of St. Mary Parish from 1954-1959. During his time in Wilmington, Msgr. McNerney assisted in strengthening the North Carolina Laymen’s Association. While he was Pastor of St. Mary Parish, he completed the St. Mary School building which is now usually referred to as “the lower school.” This School building was dedicated on October 3, 1954. Also while he was at St. Mary’s, the original doors to the church were shortened to make room for the stained-glass window depicting the Last Supper. He was transferred to Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Winston-Salem from St. Mary’s on June 21, 1959.
During his priesthood, Msgr. McNerney worked in many parts of the Diocese of Raleigh including Asheville and Winston-Salem. Records of the United States Immigration & Naturalization Service show that he traveled frequently to Ireland. In 1966, he was sent to St. John the Baptist Parish in Tyron, NC, his final parish. Msgr. McNerney died on Wednesday afternoon, December 13, 1967 in Charlotte, NC. Two days later, he was buried in Belmont Abbey Cemetery in Belmont, NC.