Pastors of Sacred Heart

Rev. Thanh N. Nguyen
June 2019 - to present
Fr. Thanh was born February 12, 1958 in South Vietnam. He entered Minor Seminary before the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. When the American Troops withdrew from Vietnam, the North Vietnamese Communists took over the South and confiscated his seminary, causing him to return to his hometown and to work as a farmer for seven years, before he escaped with 22 other refugees in a small wooden fishing boat. Along with his compatriots, Fr. Thanh was rescued by an American cargo ship after being lost on the high sea for nine days (due to a typhoon).
After spending a year in the Philippine refugee camp, he came to the United States in 1984 and immediately went to work as a baker for Kroger grocery store in Fayetteville, NC. Fr. Thanh joined the Diocese of Raleigh and was sent to St. Joseph’s Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1988. After serving his Internship Year (1989) at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church (Roanoke Rapids, NC) Father entered the Mundelein Seminary (Chicago, Illinois) and obtained his Master of Divinity Degree in 1994. In that same year, he was ordained by Bishop Gossman at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church (Southern Pines, NC).
After Fr. Thanh's priestly ordination and before coming to our parish a few days ago:
1994-1996 Parochial Vicar, St. Mary’s Parish, in Wilmington, NC
1997 Parochial Vicar, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Raleigh, NC
1998-2002 Pastor, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Raleigh, NC
2003-2010 Pastor, Good Shepherd Parish, Hope Mills, NC
2011-2019 Pastor, St. Matthew Parish, Durham, NC
~contributed by C. Urick
Rev. J. Victor Gournas
Previous Pastor
SH Pastor 2017 - 2019
Father John Victor is a native to Raleigh, NC, and is the son of Johnny and Helen Gournas (now deceased). He has two older sisters, Liz Taylor of Blue Springs, MO and Toni Davis of Raleigh, NC.
Father Vic grew up in Raleigh. He attended schools in the North Hills area, starting at EC Brooks Elementary, Carroll Junior High School and then graduated in 1977 from Sanderson High School. In 1984 he graduated from NC State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Textiles, with a minor in Quality Control. In 1987 Father Vic received his Masters of Science Degree, with a minor in Statistics, from the School of Textiles, NC State University.
After college, Fr. Vic worked in various roles within the textile apparel industry with companies such as Russell Athletic, Basset Walker Knitting (account sales to Nike Inc.) and Jasper Textiles (a golf shirt manufacturer in Whitesville NC). Father Vic resided in numerous states (compliments of these employers) such as Alabama, Virginia, New York City and lastly returning home to North Carolina. to work for the Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Engineering Society (ISA) managing a Safety & Standards group.
Father Vic entered formation for the Diocese of Raleigh and in the Fall of 2005 he attended St. Mary's Seminary & University in Baltimore, MD until 2007. He continued his studies the following academic year at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, PA where in 2009 he received his Masters of Divinity Degree - Magna Cum Laude. Father John Victor Gournas was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Raleigh on May 22, 2010.
Diocese of Raleigh Priestly Assignments and Duties: 2010 - 2013 Served as Parochial Vicar, St. Paul Catholic Church, New Bern, NC 2014 - 2017 Served as Pastor, Holy Family Catholic Church, Elizabeth City, NC 2017 - present Pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church Southport, NC
~ contributed by C. Urick
Rev. Trent L. Watts
Previous Pastor
SH Pastor 2005 - 2017
20 Aug. 1953 - Death 17 Jan. 2021
Father Trent's family are all originally from Tabor City, Whitesville, NC area. Fr. Trent was born in Roswell, NM, where his Dad was completing his four years in the USAF. When he was 3 yrs old the family moved backed to NC (Wilmington Area).
Father graduated from UNCW with a major in Philosophy and Religion. He was employed at the Wilmington Dupont plant for 11 1/2 years. Fr. Trent's family is Baptist, as was he until 1980, when he converted to Catholicism. In 1982 he felt his calling to become a priest and entered formation at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, MD.
Father Trent L Watts was ordained in 1993 as a priest for the Diocese of Raleigh. He served for six years as the Pastor of the Sacred Heart Church in Dunn, NC. The following three years as a Pastor of St. Therese in Wilson, NC.
Here at Sacred Heart, Southport, NC we were very fortunate to have Fr. Trent as our Pastor for 12 yrs as he will be missed. Father is currently Pastor at St. Therese in Wrightsville Beach, NC - update from original contribution W. Anderson 2005
Rev. J. Douglas Lawson
Pastor Emeritus
SH Pastor 1997 - Retired 2005
Fr. Doug was the fourth arrival of his parents' seven children. Fr. Bob, is the eldest of the family and is known by many of our parishioners from either Mass or when he came here as the State Chaplin of the Knights of Columbus to assist Fr. Doug in establishing our chapter. Second in line is Marie, a resident of Goldsboro. His 3rd inline sister, Delores, lives in California. John is the 5th child who was a professor at Clemson. Brother Tom was a professor at UNC-Greensville until his death 1985. The youngest child, Mark, was a Nurse-Anesthetist. The very proud father was known to have said, "I have three sons who can put people to sleep- two priests and a nurse-anesthetist!"
Father Doug Lawson's beginnings of his 43 yr. pastoral career began at the age of 16 when he entered the Franciscan seminary in NY. At the end of his novitiate year, he took his vows and became a member of the Franciscan order at 22 yrs of age. His ordination to the priesthood in 1962 started Father Doug off to his missions & assignments which included: four years in Brazil as a missionary, returning to Iona college to receive his M.S.Ed in counseling, Mission Procurator Union city, NJ - 3 yrs, Chaplin at St. Francis Medical Center, and Civilian Chaplin- Hancock AFB NY. and then enlisting into the US Army. Father Doug retired in 1995 from the US Army after 21 years of service. He was assigned as Pastor to the Infant of Prague Church In Jacksonville, NC. At this time he asked to leave the Franciscan order so that he could join the Diocese of Raleigh and return to his NC roots. All this happily worked out for him and for the parishioners of Sacred Heart because he came to our Parish. - contributed by W. Anderson 2005
Rev. Joseph G. Vetter
Previous Pastor
SH Pastor 1992-1997
1 Feb. 1947 - Death 7 May 2018
Fr. Joseph G. Vetter was born in Greensboro, NC to the late Regina Delores (Murray) Vetter and Raymond Edward Vetter of Graham, NC. Fr. Vetter was proceeded in death by his sister, Anne Marie Vetter of Durham. He is survived by his brother, David R. Vetter of Graham and his sister Rita V. Scearce (Jerry) of Greensboro.
Fr. Vetter entered into studies and preistly formation for the Diocese of Raleigh at the Ponifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. Father Joseph G. Vetter was ordained to the Priesthood on March 26, 1973 at the Annunciation Catholic Church in Havelock, NC by the Most Reverend S. Waters, the third Bishop of Raleigh.
Rev. G. John Carcich
Previous Pastor
SH Pastor 1987-1992
6 Aug 1919 Italy Death 23 Apr 2002 (aged 82)
Fr. G. John Carcich, ordained in 1945 in Rome, completed his philosophy and Theology during the six years o WWII at the world renowned Jesuit staffed Gregorian University in Rome.
Fr. John volunteered to be Pastor in 1987, after building the first Catholic Church in Hope MIlls, NC. He will continue to reside in the Southport area after his retirement and be available for weekend help in the parishes of the diocese.
Rev Frank Moeslein
Previous Pastor
Bishop George E. Lynch
Previous Pastor