Coverage Areas:  National |  South Carolina |  Aiken |  Beaufort |  Charleston |  Columbia |  Greenville |  Myrtle Beach |  Rock Hill
Menu

St. Gregory the Great geared up for growth

By NANCY SCHWERIN

BLUFFTON — While the grounds of St. Gregory the Great were drenched with rain, soggy parishioners nearly filled the 900-seat parish to witness its blessing.

The blessing ended years of planning — or rather ended phase one of many more years of planning. The new parish will one day be the parish hall.

Bluffton, while one of the fastest growing areas in the nation, is the fourth largest town in South Carolina, and Father H. Gregory West and his parishioners are preparing to welcome people. Future plans for the rapidly growing parish include a new 2,000-seat parish expected in a seven- to 10-year period, and an interparish committee has started meeting to plan for Catholic schools in the Bluffton area.

Five years ago the church had 90 parishioners. They now have 1,600 parishioners, a number expected to double in three to four years.

“We knew they were coming,” said Robert Van Auken, co-chairman of the Parish Building Committee, at the start of Mass. He presented Father West with two passes for a sky diving adventure in thanks for all his hard work; Bishop Robert J. Baker received the building plans and the key to the church.

The bishop blessed the parish, sprinkling holy water across its parishioners and its walls. Following the Liturgy of the Word, he blessed the altar. Bishop Baker poured chrism oil over the altar and rubbed it in with his hands. The anointing makes the altar a symbol of Christ, because the altar is where the celebration of the Eucharist takes place.

In his homily, the bishop congratulated Father West, who received an extended round of applause. The bishop shared Pope John Paul II’s perspective of a new evangelization, which calls for four qualities to be successful: clarity, humanity, confidence, and prudence. People need clarity to live their faith, humanity to know compassion and true love for their neighbor, confidence in the Gospel of Christ, and prudence … “which St. Gregory called ‘The virtue of the brave,'” said Bishop Baker.

“I encourage you to work these qualities into your evangelization,” he said.

In recognition of the Labor Day weekend, the bishop commended the laborers who helped in constructing the church and concluded, “We should labor in even greater ways for the Lord and his people.”

At the end of Mass, Father West said, “We have come to the promised land …. Give me an ‘Amen.'” And without missing a beat, his parishioners gave him a hearty response.

He also recognized the parish’s former pastors: Msgr. John A. Simonin made the trip from Charleston, and Father Paul F.X. Seitz traveled over from Ritter. Father Raymond DuMouchel sent his regrets and congratulations to his former parishioners.

“With God’s graces and God’s help there’s nothing we can’t do together,” concluded Father West.

Most of the congregation stayed for the well-planned reception and in good humor enjoyed the food and the rain.

Come sun or downpour, the people will eat — after the blessing.






  • Diocesan Events Calendar
    View All Events
    Oct 13 Diocesan Evangelization Conference
    From the Calendar of Ethnic Ministries
    Oct 278:00 am Day of Continuing Education for Deacons
    From the Calendar of Diaconate
    Nov 1 Black Catholic History Month
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Nov 1010:00 am Junta de Equipo Diocesano de Emmaus
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Nov 1210:00 am Junta Diocesana
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Nov 17 Diocese of Charleston Native American Catholic Heritage Celebration
    From the Calendar of Native American Ministry
    Nov 18 Vietnamese Martyrs Celebration
    From the Calendar of Vietnamese Ministry
    Dec 1 Black Catholics Heritage Celebration
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Dec 15 Simbang Gabi for Filipino Catholics
    From the Calendar of Filipino Ministry
    Dec 25 Diocesan Television Christmas Special Fox 21
    From the Calendar of Ethnic Ministries
    Jan 412:00 am Class 2019 Ordination Retreat
    From the Calendar of Diaconate
    Jan 812:00 am Retiro Espiritual de Emmaus
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Jan 1210:00 am Junta de Equipo Diocesano de Emmaus
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    Feb 911:00 am Ordination of Permanent Deacons
    From the Calendar of Diaconate