Tuesday, September 30, 2014
   
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Civil rights anniversary a reminder of more work ahead

DIOCESE—It’s been 50 years since the Civil Rights Act was signed, outlawing discrimination. It dismantled “separate but equal”, at least legally, but it took a long time and a lot of pressure to make it a reality.

Jacqueline Grimball Jefferson remembers those years well, because her family was right in the thick of it.

Her grandfather, Esau Jenkins, was a prominent local leader and worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., she said. When she was little, she remembers King and other national civil rights activists meeting and staying at her grandparents’ house.

Even at a young age, she and her siblings and cousins were all involved in the movement. At a 1967 rally in Charleston featuring King, 12-year-old Jefferson gave an impassioned speech about the scourge of poverty and the need for all people to work together, then introduced the famous activist.

The next year, in eighth grade, she joined a small group of pioneers at the High School of Charleston.

“That was just the start of integration; it was not easy,” she said. “I was submerged in an atmosphere where we really weren’t wanted.”

She described the racism she encountered as an ugly monster that had to be faced every day, leading to stress migraines in her teens. Sometimes the racism was physically threatening, such as the time a police officer pointed a bayonet in her face during the hospital strike of 1969.

She was 14 at the time, and joined the strike along with some other family members. She was arrested, along with many others, including local priests and religious sisters.

Jefferson described it as a form of war. There were threats on her grandfather’s life, tapped phone lines, and daily harassment. She said she wasn’t scared because her whole family was involved — that’s just what they did. She was also comforted by the support of the religious community, noting that sisters worked closely with her grandfather and were often at the house. Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler and others in the church were staunch, vocal supporters of desegregation and civil rights.

Jefferson said the bishop was a good friend of her grandfather.

That early association led to a reconnection in 1974 when Jefferson worked at St. Francis Hospital and met some Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, who had worked closely with her family.

Now she is the coordinator of the Wellness Center at the OLM Community Outreach. She said it is her way to continue giving back, to do just a little bit more each day.

Recently, she heard herself on tape for the first time, giving that speech from 1967, and said it moved her emotionally and in her desire to do more.

“It really brought tears to my eyes,” she said, because for all the big changes, the fight continues to fix the underlying issues of decent housing, education, jobs and true equality.

As people pay tribute to the achievements of the civil rights movement, Jefferson said the anniversary must also serve as a reminder of the work that lies ahead, adding that the world needs to return to the strategies of that movement, when all people came together to right injustice.

“Until we can come together and respect where each other’s coming from, racism will always be an issue,” she said.

 

October is Respect Life month

In his 2013 Day for Life greeting, Pope Francis said: “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”

That has become the theme for this year’s Respect Life Program for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In his own message launching the program, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said that when Pope Francis embraces the most vulnerable in our society it indicates that “we are loved.”

The Church’s antidote to an individualism which threatens the respect for human dignity is community and solidarity, he said, and it is our mission to show each person the love of Christ.

“We are continually given opportunities to do so in our interactions with the cashier at the grocery store, our spouses, children, friends and even the people we encounter in traffic. We may never know how much a simple gesture of compassion may affect someone’s life,” he said.

October will provide plenty of opportunities to show that love in the Diocese of Charleston. The 40 Days for Life Campaign will be from Sept. 24 to Nov. 2. Join in by praying and fasting, or helping fill the round-the-clock prayer vigils held in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville.

In Charleston the vigil is held at Charleston Women’s Medical Center, 1312 Ashley River Road, S.C. Highway 61. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone will lead the prayer on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. A midway rally will be held Oct. 14 in front of the clinic and the closing rally will be Nov. 2 at 2 p.m. at a location to be announced.

The contacts are Gene D’Agostino, (203) 530-1908, and Anne Hobday, (843) 437-3190. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.40daysforlife.com/Charleston.

In Columbia the round-the-clock vigil takes place at Planned Parenthood, 2712 Middleburg Drive, Suite 107. The contact is Sharon Hale, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Bishop Guglielmone will lead the prayers Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.

In Greenville the vigil will be at the Greenville Women’s Clinic, 1142 Grove Road. Contact JoAnn Gorman, (864) 248-0264; Ingrid Ireland, (864) 329-0044; or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The kick-off rally will be Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. to noon at 1139 Grove Road, across the street from the clinic. The candlelight vigil with Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor at St. Mary Church, will be announced. Call Gorman or Ireland for details. The closing celebration will also be announced at a later date.

The Rosary for Life will take place in conjunction with 40 Days for Life. Find out more at your parish.

The annual Life Chain is a silent, yet powerful witness. Participants stand or sit with signs in silent prayer along public roads. It will be held Oct. 5, unless otherwise noted, in the following cities:
AIKEN—118 Bypass (Rudy Mason Highway) at 183 Old Wagener Road, 2:50-4 p.m., Rhonda Terry, (803) 643-1834 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
BEAUFORT—Ribaut Road at Boundary Street, Oct. 27, 2-3:30 p.m., Theresa Pulliam, (843) 524-2604 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
CHARLESTON—Savannah Highway at Moore Drive, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Clare and Bill Richter, (843) 766-2729 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
COLUMBIA—Forest Drive at Beltline Boulevard, 2-3:30 p.m., Holly Gatling, (803) 252-5433 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
CONWAY—Highway 501 at 16th Avenue, 2-3 p.m., Brenda Brown, (843) 234- 0918 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
GAFFNEY—Floyd Baker Boulevard at Walton Drive, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Anna Daniel, (864) 425-1332 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
GARDEN CITY—Highway 17 Business at Cypress Avenue, 2-3 p.m., Theresa Borkes, (843) 650-8828 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
GEORGETOWN—Church Street (Highway 17) at Frasier Street, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Danny Owens, (843) 527-7810
GOOSE CREEK—510 St. James Ave., 2:30-3:30 p.m., Yvonne Weatherby, (843) 572-9604 or Annette Griebsch, (843) 554-7786
GREENVILLE—Woodruff Road between I-85 and I-385, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Gary Hall, (864) 367-4635 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and Mahlon Helmuth, (864) 845-6880 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
GREENWOOD—Montague Avenue near the rental car lot, 2-3 p.m., Rhett Copeland, (864) 223-8410 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
IRMO—St. Andrews Road at Lake Murray Boulevard, 2-3:30 p.m., Deb Marks, (803) 920-4933 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
LEXINGTON—2350 Augusta Highway in front of Corpus Christi Church, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Jeff Hemming, (803) 738-5707 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
LONGS—1569 SC Highway 9 East, 4:15-5:30 p.m., Ashley Bates, (843) 222-9065 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
MCCORMICK—Highway 28 at Highway 378, 2-3 p.m., Donna Smith, (864) 391-4420
MYRTLE BEACH—Kings Highway at 38th N, 2-3 p.m., John Kost, (843) 626-8684 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
ROCK HILL—Cherry Road at Caswell Street, 2-3:30 p.m., assemble at 2:30 p.m., Kristine Lenti, (803) 328-5810 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
SPARTANBURG—Reidville Road at I-26, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Joe Rumler, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
SUMMERVILLE—Main Street between Richardson and Doty Avenues, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Larry Papineau, (843) 696-2165, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or Dorchester Citizens for Life or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
SUMTER—Broad Street from North Salem Street and Wilson Hall Road, Nov. 3, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Hugh Wilson, (803) 481-7972 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Participants are encouraged to bring chairs if needed.

 

Konopka anchors world-record relay team

GREENVILLE—At night before a big swim meet, Katrina Konopka said she can never sleep. When this happens, she turns to a prayer given to her by a teacher — a version of “God Alone is Enough,” by St. Teresa Avila.

“Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you,” Konopka recites, adding that it leads her to peace so she can fall asleep and prepare.

It seems to be working.

She has broken a lot of records in her seven years of swimming — local, state, national — but the most recent was the biggest: a world record at the 2014 Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii in August.

Just getting there was an accomplishment: making the cut of 23 female swimmers chosen from across the U.S. to represent Team USA in the world championships.

Once there, she posted one of the four fastest times in the 100 freestyle and was selected for America’s four-member relay team.

The day of the 400-meter medley relay, Konopka and her teammates — Stanzi Moseley, Amy Bilquist and Katie Drabot — were seeded second to the Australians, who were predicted to win by a full 3 seconds.

At this point, Konopka said she’s still offering up prayers, but like the action in the water, they are quick: “Please let me swim fast — I do this for You!”

In the relay, she swam the anchor leg, keeping the competition neck-in-neck with the favored Aussies, and finishing with both countries breaking the world record.

Australia actually finished slightly ahead — by three-tenths of a second with a time of 3 minutes, 40.14 seconds — but they couldn’t claim the title because one of their teammates was too old to compete for the record.

Konopka said there was a lot of cheering when the U.S. realized they were the victors.

In the end, the meet was the highlight of the trip: wearing the black cap with the American flag on it, seeing fans run alongside the pool waving flags, chanting for the USA.

There was also some time for play though. On the last day, Konopka and all her teammates went snorkeling around the reefs of Maui, enjoying the water grace of sea turtles and angel fish.

“I met so many good friends that week,” she said. “It was just a great experience to be a part of Team USA.”

Now she’s back in the real world, a senior at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville and member of St. Mary Magdalene Church. As she spoke, she was busy signing out of school for a trip to the University of Arizona, one of several colleges interested in recruiting her.

After that, look for her on the Olympic podium.

 

Photos provided: Katrina Konopka, left, poses with her teammates after they broke the world record at the 2014 Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii.

 

Image to share:

The Catholic Miscellany: Konopka anchors world-record relay team - Prayer from St. Teresa of Avila

 

ECCO turns 25: From temporary relief to permanent solutions

MOUNT PLEASANT—When Hurricane Hugo hit 25 years ago, it ripped a swath of destruction hundreds of miles wide, shearing off entire forests and revealing pockets of poverty that had previously been hidden.

Members of the largely affluent community said it was as if the storm blew the scales from their eyes and they saw for the first time the extreme conditions in their midst.

Christ Our King Church and its pastor, Msgr. James Carter, immediately jumped into action, opening an emergency relief center in the parish school that became the only distribution center for food, water and clothing in the area.

At first, it served to help people recover from the category 5 storm but even after the emergency was over, the outreach remained to address the community needs.

Msgr. Carter recalled the shock he and others felt when they first saw the daily conditions revealed by the storm.

“There was a lot of devastation, but the real awakening was when we went out to some of these small little communities out here, people were living in tents ... what we discovered was that while there was a great deal of devastation as far as Hugo was concerned, that devastation was there before,” he said.

Marge Del Bene, who’s been part of the effort for 25 years, still gets emotional when she recalled the people she met, living in shacks with no electricity, running water or sewer.

“It brings tears to my eyes,” she said. “[Hugo] brought it all out. I didn’t know there was even any poverty in Mount Pleasant, and it was right there in front of my eyes. It was really a rude awakening.”

So from the rubble of Hugo, came new life for East Cooper.

Originally called United Relief Ministries, the outreach moved briefly to a vacant building in Jaber’s Market, drawing long lines of people in need and making it clear a permanent solution was needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1990, East Cooper Community Outreach was officially incorporated as a non-profit, a board was commissioned and a permanent building purchased.

The next year, the group opened a dental clinic, began counseling services, and offered financial assistance and home improvements. They were on their way.

In 1993, a prescription assistance program began and plans started percolating for a new building, which was opened on Six Mile Road in 2003.

Over the next years, with the new location and space, some big partners joined the effort, including St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities immigration services, MUSC Family Medicine Clinic and CARES Emergency Medical Clinic.

Jack Little, executive director since 2005, said they have evolved from an organization that gave people what they needed — food, prescriptions, clothes — to a program that teaches people to take control.

For example, the Out of Poverty Initiative begun in 2007 looks at the root causes of generational poverty and addresses ways to tackle and overcome it.

“ECCO’s been very successful,” said Dr. Victor Del Bene, current board president. “It’s progressed from being a safety net service to actually trying to help people help themselves; to get out of the situation they’re in.”

There are plenty of success stories from which to draw.

One that stands out for Little is Sally, an unemployed mother of two trying to recover from an abusive situation. She enrolled in the Getting Ahead workshop and landed a job. Each day, she found a way to arrive at work despite no transportation, and was soon promoted to assistant manager.

Impressed by her work ethic and support of other participants, Sally was chosen as the recipient of a donated car, which came from another lady who once was a struggling single mother.

Little said the GED program, empowerment classes, and mentoring for at-risk children have all been successful, adding that 75 percent of participants have reached goals and are showing they can make a change.

Looking at all they do, it’s hard for those involved to cite one program as the most successful, because they all work together, but one that earns a lot of kudos is the dental clinic.

When it first started, the dental program only provided extractions, but has grown to a restorative practice.

“It means the world,” Little said. “Fixing their teeth gives them a lot of self-confidence. It doesn’t just help them feel better about themselves, but be more successful with their lives.”

The medical clinic and nurse practitioner program are also cited as highly effective, noting that they address individual health issues and create diet and exercise programs to make successful changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We’ve really come a long way, but we’ve got a lot more to do,” Little said.

Coming up, Msgr. Carter said they would like to establish a satellite program in Cainhoy. He said one of the biggest needs there is teaching young people a trade so they can find jobs, and he is hopeful they can partner with Trident Technical College on this goal.

Mrs. Del Bene said they must reach young people in order to end generational poverty through education, noting that well-paying jobs call for a needed skill or a degree.

Another future goal for ECCO is to send clinic personnel to outlying areas like Cainhoy to assess people’s medical needs, and set up a transportation program so they can come to the clinics for treatment, Msgr. Carter said.

Ultimately, ECCO would love to achieve its original goal, which will require continued teamwork and community involvement.

“The whole idea was to eliminate poverty, and I hope in the next 25 years, there will be some way to do that,” said Dr. Del Bene.

Watch the anniversary video.

 

Click timeline to view larger:

The Catholic Miscellany: ECCO turns 25: From temporary relief to permanent solutions -- East Cooper Community Outreach timeline

 

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