Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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St. Francis Cancer Center blessed by Bishop Guglielmone

GREENVILLE—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone blessed the St. Francis Cancer Center at the millennium campus on Nov. 18.

Unique to Greenville, the free-standing oncology center provides the next generation of radiation therapy, which enables Bon Secours St. Francis physicians to treat many more types of cancer —including the most challenging cases — more effectively and with fewer side effects.

Outpatient cancer-treatment services currently offered at St. Francis downtown, including infusion therapy, clinical trial research, palliative care and nurse navigation, will be relocated to the new center.

Dr. Robert Siegel, Bon Secours St. Francis oncology and hematology program director, emphasized that the new center is more than just a state-of-the-art facility.

“Treating the patient as an individual is at the heart of how we provide cancer care,” he said. "Because we recognize and respect the whole patient, the new St. Francis Cancer Center is not only an advanced treatment center, it’s also a sanctuary.”

The center also houses a boutique, on-site pharmacy, health food café, chapel and a community room for support group meetings and other activities.

For the added convenience of patients and their families, the nationally recognized STAR Survivorship program — introduced at Bon Secours St. Francis in 2008 and the first of its kind in the state — will also relocate to the millennium campus. Outpatient oncology rehab services will move to the nearby HealThy Self gym in the Millennium Medical Office 2 building.



Summerville dads organize to support their children’s school

SUMMERVILLE—The annual oyster roast and cook-out thrown by the Summerville Catholic Fathers Association has quickly become a huge success, just like the group itself.

The club was started three years ago by Travis Piscitelli, who was looking for a way for dads to be more involved with school life. They tackled several projects and quickly established an easy camaraderie, leading Piscitelli to realize “we’re more than just a work crew so let’s try to put on an event.”

He said the oyster roast was never meant to be a fundraiser; it was simply a way to say thank you to the teachers and staff, who get in free. But in just its second year, they netted enough to buy the school its own grill — saving the cost of renting one for every function — and this year brought in another $500-$700 that they’ll put toward improvements.

Lisa Tanner, principal, said all schools have involved parent volunteers, but Summerville Catholic may be the only one whose fathers are organized into a dedicated work force. The oyster roast is their biggest event, but it’s far from the only thing they do.

They helped renovate the science lab by ripping out the heavy, old tables, repainted the swing sets and shoveled sand on the playground. A number of dads also volunteer as coaches for sports at the school.

Tanner said all she has to do is email Piscitelli and before she knows it, there’s a dad at the school, ready to build stage props for a play or grill burgers for a picnic.

“It’s an opportunity for the dads to get to know each other on many levels, and it brings the whole family to be more involved in the school,” Tanner said.

It was the perfect ice-breaker into a new community for Jack Collins. A member of the U.S. Navy, Collins said he, his wife Kelley and two young children move often and struggle to start fresh each time. The fathers association has been a wonderful experience for everyone, and helped ease their transition to a new place.

He’s been a member for three years, and said the group has become like family.

“I’ve met the guys I’d consider to be my closest personal friends,” he said, adding that the wives and children have all bonded too.

Piscitelli said the group has a core membership of about 15 dads who come to everything, and about 25 who help at big events.

He said there are a lot of moms at the school who make time to volunteer during the day, but noted that dads have a tougher time carving out volunteer hours in the workday. So he wanted to create a group for those dads, so they could contribute in the afternoons and evenings, or as a family on weekends.

“We hope it gets bigger and better every year,” he said.


Be mediators of God’s goodness, Bishop says

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we approach this wonderful national holiday we call Thanksgiving, we reflect on a year that has been difficult in so many ways.

We can certainly think of our economy that is still struggling, families in situations that challenge them, a world situation of terrorism and violence, and all kinds of challenges to our faith coming from many sides. If we were to focus on these negatives, we could easily fall into depression and possibly even to despair.

However, there are so many wonderful and beautiful aspects of our lives that offer us a sense of hope and produce in us positive joy: families that are experiencing great love and affirmation; a diocese where so much growth is occurring; young people who are living their faith in beautiful ways, especially in reaching out in so many ways to those who are struggling. God is so active in our lives that no matter how many challenges to a good life that we face, He always gives us the grace to live lives of hope, joy, and peace; serenity in the midst of sometimes chaotic situations is still quite possible thanks to a caring God who loves us.

It is so important to give thanks for all these graces. Let us never forget to thank our God on Thanksgiving Day, to get to Mass if at all possible, at least to pray with our families and friends as we celebrate this day. Let us also give thanks to and for each other, for it so often happens that God’s graces are mediated through the people who pass through our lives. So often our friends and relatives offer us the affirmation that helps us to see clearly God’s presence in our lives.

May this Thanksgiving Day be an opportunity for all of us to be mediators of God’s goodness by reaching out to those who may need, in one way or another, a healing and comforting touch.

Happy Thanksgiving and may God’s blessings be yours in abundance.

Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone
Bishop of Charleston


A story of charity, a mission of mercy

SOUTH CAROLINA—In an effort to “wake up the world” to the faith of men and women religious, Pope Francis called for a celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life to begin Nov. 30 and close Feb. 2, 2016.

To honor the women religious who have dedicated their lives to the service of God, The Catholic Miscellany will feature articles about the orders serving in South Carolina, starting with our own Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, who will celebrate 185 years on Dec. 8.

Founded by Bishop John England, premier bishop of Charleston, the congregation’s history runs parallel to that of the diocese. The community established the first Catholic orphanage and schools; they attended soldiers from the Civil War and opened the first Catholic hospital and nursing school; and they served the poor in a multitude of ways.

Now, almost two centuries later, their work has changed, but the call to live their charism of charity remains. As Sister Mary Joseph Ritter, general superior, said: “We are the last living link with John England and we continue to minister in many ways.”

Taking a moment out of busy schedules, Sister Mary Joseph gathered with Sisters Anne Francis Campbell, Carol Wentworth and Ann Billard to talk about their community and its long history of service.

A few of the ministries in which the sisters are involved at present include adult education, faith formation, prevention of human trafficking, community outreach, prison ministry, pro-life issues, phone outreach and prayer, and senior ministry, which includes taking Communion and visiting the sick and homebound.

They provide grants to various nonprofits in South Carolina and a scholarship to Bishop England High School. They sponsor Our Lady of Mercy Outreach and Neighborhood House, both of which they founded to serve the poor.

Sister Ann is engaged in the ministry of “Transformative Aging”. She travels all over the world guiding aging members of religious congregations.

“I help them recognize there is a call, a mission and purpose throughout the aging process of their lives,” she explained.

“We’ve been prophetic witnesses from the beginning,” said Sister Ann, noting that the sisters were at the forefront of education, health care and outreach since the inception of the diocese.

“Now we see a hunger for a spiritual way of being and believe our greatest work is in front of us, as long as we trust and are faithful and have hope.”

Sister Anne Francis, using a favorite quote, said “The past is God’s; the future is God’s; the present is ours and God’s together.”

The sisters plan to actively live that present, carrying out God’s will to help change the world.


One of the first missions of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy was to provide educational opportunities to young girls from poor homes and to free children of color.

Beginning with Our Lady of Mercy Academy in 1830, the sisters were key figures in the establishment of several schools in the state, including Charleston, Columbia, Sumter and Aiken. In all, they served in 26 educational institutions in South Carolina and New Jersey.

The sisters were an active presence in local schools until 2006, when they fine-tuned their focus to concentrate on parish and adult education.

The history:

1830 Sisters open Our Lady of Mercy Academy for girls on Friend Street in Charleston.
1835 Operate the first school for free children of color, which closed then reopened from 1841-48.
1899 Begin a long career serving parochial schools across the diocese, including the establishment of Bishop England High School in 1915.


The sisters are still active in their ministry of education. Through Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach on Johns Island, they provide after-school tutoring, summer education programs, GED and ESL instruction. Neighborhood House also offers courses including computer classes.

Health care

Care of the sick and infirm was another of the original purposes of the community. In the early days, they waded through muddy streets to care for those who were ill, even during times of plague.

Their dedication to wounded and dying soldiers during the Civil War, and even after it ended, was recognized by the U.S. Congress thanks to many letters from grateful soldiers. In gratitude, the sisters received a grant to rebuild their orphanage damaged by bombing.

When health care moved from home to hospital, the sisters were at the forefront of the movement, establishing hospitals and nursing homes around the diocese.

The history:

1830 Sisters attend the sick in homes and temporary relief hospitals.
1861 Serve wounded soldiers in military hospitals throughout the Civil War.
1882 Open St. Francis Xavier Hospital in Charleston.
1900 Mother Teresa Barry dies on May 18. Her successor, Mother Loretto Quinlan, opens the first school of nursing in Charleston.


In 1989, the sisters transferred sponsorship of the hospitals to Bon Secours Health Care System. They have returned to their roots, and now visit the sick at home and in hospitals. The sisters also provide numerous medical services to those in need through Our Lady of Mercy Outreach Center, established in 1989.

Community outreach

As yellow fever devastated the population and left many children orphans, one of the order’s first acts was to establish an orphanage. They were involved with the care of orphans until 1991.

The sisters also founded Neighborhood House in 1915 and developed programs to serve the needs of an impoverished community.

In 1929, they reached out to mission territories by creating day schools and camps in areas around the diocese.

The history:

1830 Sisters open the first orphanage in their home to a group of orphaned girls.
1867 Operate a boys’ orphanage. The girls’ and boys’ facilities merge in 1901 and run until 1965.
1915 Open Neighborhood House, which originally served immigrant populations, and then the African-American community.
1929 Begin ministry of mission schools and camps.


The sisters maintain many ministries to the community, including prayer, plus writing and visiting prisoners. In 1994, the community joined the Sisters of Charity Federation, which includes congregations in the U.S. and Canada. Through the federation, they advocate for peace and justice and have an Non-Governmental Organization representative at the United Nations who is involved with issues such as human trafficking.


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