St. Anthony's

St. Anthony's Catholic Church


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Masses at 7PM & 10PM


Glenmary Council 7853


Catholic Diocese of Richmond







St. Anthony's Catholic Church

Norton Parish Runs Summer Feeding Program for Children


Saint Anthony

Dorchester Missions 1902

Founded in 1938


Location: 1009 Virginia Ave NW
Norton, VA 24273-1897
Phone: (276) 679-2336
Rectory: (276) 523-1602
St. Anthony's Office
  St. Anthony's Web
Mailing: 1009 Virginia Ave NW
Norton, VA 24273-1897

Office Hours



Mass/Reconciliation Times

  • Sunday:10:00AM (English)


  • Pastor Rev. Jose Arnel Dooc Ayo

Handicapped Accessible

  • Worship Areas
  • Social Hall
  • Restrooms
  • Offices
  • Meeting Rooms

Special Ministries

  • Heritage Hall Nursing Center, Wise, Va.
  • Norton Community Hospital
  • Mountain View Regional Hospital

Associated Parishes

  • Sacred Heart
  • Saint Joseph
  • Holy Spirit

Campus Ministry

  • University of Virginia College at Wise

Prison Ministries

  • Red Onion State Prison

Local City Web


St. Anthony's Catholic Church Anniversary

2003 St. Anthony's Catholic Church In Norton Virginia Celebrated It's 65th Year on Virginia Avenue in Norton VA.

Original Church July 3, 1938

Original Church with Fellowship Hall July 10, 1972

The Church on Virginia Ave in Norton, VA - St. Anthony's Church

July 3, 1938 1922-1936 James B. Quinn, O. S. B. was assigned to the Norton area. Benedictine Annals notes there were Italian and Syrian Catholics in Norton. The railroad junction made Norton an ideal place as a center for missionary activity. In the mid 1920's a church in Dorchester was demolished and the materials were used to build the building used as a place of worship on the 800 block of Park Ave. in Norton, VA. 1936-1943 Fr. Peter Aarts A Dutchman architect who owned his own concrete block construction company designed and built St. Anthony's Catholic Church on Virginia Ave. in Norton, VA. St. Anthony's was dedicated July 3, 1938.

This artist rendering shows St. Anthony's Catholic Church - Our current church on the left - The original builing on the right.

1938-1988 50th Anniversary St. Anthony's In Norton

50th Anniversary of St. Anthony's Church in Norton, VA

The 1988 artist rendering by Denise Ellen Gabriele above shows the relationship of St. Anthony's current church on Virginia Avenue to the original St. Anthony's Church that was built in 1938. In 1988 St. Anthony's parish celebrated their fiftieth anniversary on Virginia Avenue. However, at the time of the celebration, the original building was already torn down. Prior to 1938 in the late 1800's, St. Anthony's Parish celebrated mass in a community houses. By 1900 mass was celebrated in a house in the Dorchester section of Norton. Prior to building the 1938 church on Virginia Avenue, services were held in a building on the 8th Street Block of Park Avenue in Norton.

St. Anthony's Parish Celebrates 25 Years In Their New Building

Photo of St. Anthony's Catholic Church That Was Taken The Day St. Anthony 's Parish

Celebrated 25 Years In Their New Building On November 24, 2002

On November 24, 2002, St. Anthony's Catholic Church celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. The  guest speaker was Father Bob Bond who spoke of all the things that brought us this far. Fr. Bob remembered the work of the Glen Mary Brethren who labored to build the church, the gift of Protestant friends who carried the block of coal from Pennsylvania to be molded into our altar, and the faith of the Catholic community that made our church happen. It was a wonderful testament to the Glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Virginian

PARISH PROFILE August 24, 2009 | Volume 84, Number 22

St. Anthony’s, Norton: A rich diversity of gifted people

One of the more notable physical appointments of any church in the Diocese of Richmond has to be the altar in St. Anthony Church in Norton made from a huge single block of anthracite coal.

It’s certainly appropriate for the small church in far southwest Virginia where the community and its surrounding Appalachian mountain region were settled by coal miners.

The coal industry has continued to be a central element of the local culture and economy through succeeding generations to today.

St. Anthony’s sanctuary is a conscientious representation of its community — both temporal and spiritual.

Other prominent features are the stained glass windows depicting mining, medical, communication and sewing industries as well as symbols of education, home and family, the local “trail of the lonesome pine,” religious practice and Christ and the Eucharist.

But in the same way, on any given Sunday, the living church of St. Anthony’s is reflected in the faces of its members, a representation of a faithful Catholic community that has endured in these mountains for over 70 years.

The most significant feature of today’s St. Anthony faith community is its diversity, said Father Timothy Drake, pastor.

“You’ll see, whenever the people gather after Mass, all these small groups — the Filipinos over here, the African Americans there, the whites, the Hispanics — but all together in the room under one roof,” he explained.

“It’s a very gifted community,” added Father Tim, pastor for the last eight years. “There are people here from all over. They are highly educated and sensitive to their diversity.”

With two hospitals in Norton, a large percentage of the St. Anthony membership is employed in the medical profession, particularly among its sizable Filipino community.

Parishioner and physician Dr. Rodolfo Cartegena estimated there are at least a dozen medical doctors in the congregation of only 60 households.

St. Anthony’s comes by its diversity honestly. Catholic immigrant families of coal miners first came to the Norton area in the mid-19th century. They were Hungarian, Slovak, German, Lebanese, Polish and Irish. Later they were joined by miners from Italy and Syria, as well.

The parish history notes that in 1896 the Stonega Coal and Coke Company built “a handsome edifice” for its Catholic employees there, and priests of the Wheeling, West Virginia, diocese came to serve them.

The original St. Anthony’s Church was designed and built in 1936 by a priest, Father Peter Aarts, who was also an architect and owned his own construction company. The Glenmary priests served the parish beginning in 1946.

Parishioner Bob Isaac, 79, who grew up in the neighboring town of Appalachia and owned a clothing store in Norton, recalled when the coal communities were bursting with people and bustling with commerce.

He later saw the population wane and economy falter in the 1950s and ‘60s with mines automating and growing competition from the oil industry.

In 1979 when a new church was built on St. Anthony’s same site, Bishop Walter F. Sullivan named Father Richard Dollard as the first diocesan priest to be pastor of St. Anthony’s when the Glenmary's left.

St. Anthony parishioners, from left, are Beth Palabrica, Christian Formation coordinator, Tita Cartagena, Thelma Adongay, Aja Cartagena, Elsa Miranda, Hortense Mooney, Bob Isaac, Shirley Mooney and Rudy Cartagena.

With wide ranging backgrounds, the people of St. Anthony’s prize their Catholic faith and are actively engaged in sharing it with each other. They are particularly involved in liturgical and Christian formation ministry.

Elsa Miranda, a member of St. Anthony’s for 35 years, noted that the church continues to hold First Friday devotions, and a long-running rosary prayer group of some 27 participants still gathers in individual homes for faith sharing.

St. Anthony’s has a thriving program of catechesis with about 25 children enrolled. Beth Palabrica, who coordinates parish Christian formation, said the 5-6 catechists who lead Sunday morning classes all participate in the diocesan Pathways certification process.

Father Drake said a big challenge for the parish is serving its growing Hispanic community.

Overcoming language barriers will be necessary to increase catechesis and encourage participation beyond sacramental preparation.

Parishioners also would like to develop a campus ministry at the neighboring University of Virginia at Wise but limited resources currently don’t allow for it.

Beverly Willis, who leads the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, mentioned that the parish usually has at least one person preparing to enter the Church.

There’s no “systematic” approach to adult formation, Father Tim said, but occasional speakers and presentations attract good participation.

“The people want to know more about their faith and about the Bible,” he noted.

They want to learn more to pass their faith on to their children as well as strengthen their own spirituality, the pastor explained.

Enjoying donuts after Mass are, back row from left, Irv Bass, J. T. Caruso, Jack Nauss and brother David holding his younger brother Daniel. In the front, from left, are other Nauss children, Peter, Tom and Angela. Dr. Dave Nauss and his three oldest boys mow the grass and maintain the grounds at St. Anthony.



St. Anthony parishioners say the parish is very much accepted in the Norton community.

“They say ‘my faith is challenged here.’” Father Drake said. “They are on the defensive about the Catholic faith.”

He suggested that a lingering regional undercurrent of mistrust regarding Catholicism inhibits people from openly sharing their faith outside the church.

As in other parts of the state, Catholics are in a distinct minority in the Norton area. Small evangelical churches proliferate, seemingly peeking through the trees at every turn of the winding Appalachian roads, and religious people who have lived there a long time will tell you that a non-institutional spirituality runs deep throughout the region.

But Father Drake said his parishioners have told him they face “a lot of no-faith up here.”

The Glenmary priests, who maintained a strong presence in the region for some 50 years beginning in the 1940s, were more intent on informing people about Catholic belief and social teaching, he said.

“We are pretty timid about it,” Father Tim admitted.

Father Tim shares the people’s sense of

challenge and caution regarding evangelization. In his personal call to bring the Gospel to the region he takes a gentle approach.

“I try to get to know people. A personal relationship goes a long way,” he noted.

A native of Cleveland, Father Drake was ordained of the Diocese of Richmond in 1971. Prior to coming to Norton he was pastor for several years of St. Matthew Parish in Virginia Beach.

He admitted that his transition from urban to rural life took a little time. But he adjusted and enjoys serving in the rural mountain parishes.

When Father Drake first came to Norton he was assigned to both St. Anthony’s and St. Mary’s in Coeburn.

Four years ago his pastorate expanded to include Sacred Heart of Big Stone Gap and Holy Spirit of Jonesville.

“Then when I became pastor of St. Joseph’s in Clintwood, it became clustered with the others,” he explained.

Father Tim spent five years in the Philippines with the Maryknoll community.

His ministry also includes visiting Norton hospitals and the area’s super-max state prisons, Red Onion and Wallens Ridge.

He shares visiting the local federal prison with neighboring priest Father Michael Herbert.

The necessary travel among the churches on weekends can be a test in itself, and an added challenge came when the diocese recently designated the grouping as a cluster.

Nevertheless, Father Tim said he believes the parishes will grow into their shared ministry, especially with the help of the diocesan “We Walk By Faith” planning process.

“It’s been great so far,” he said, “and it’s really going to help us look at each of the parishes and see who does what best so we can share those various ministries with each other.”