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Fiesta an opportunity to share traditions

COLUMBIA—Anna Tovar of Johns Island saw her two children bring their heritage to life on a recent Saturday.

Her daughter Kimberly, 14, and son Ray, 12, both belong to “Danza de Holy Spirit,” a traditional Mexican dance group based at Holy Spirit Church on Johns Island and led by parishioners Guillermo and Maria Luisa Macias.

Accompanied only by the mesmerizing beat of one small bass drum and the rhythmic jingle of hand chimes, they joined in a series of intricate dances and then marched in a procession of nations and flags that kicked off the Diocese of Charleston’s 2014 Hispanic Fiesta. The event was organized by the Office of Hispanic Ministry.

The performance was emotional for Tovar and other parents who stood on the sidelines and watched.

“We’re actually bringing the traditions from Mexico to this nation, and seeing my own children involved in the kind of dances we saw performed as children back there is very emotional for me,” she said. “My daughter is also getting ready for confirmation, so to have her involved in this dance ministry at this time in her life is also very special.”

The dancers from Holy Spirit were part of a cross-cultural collage of dancers, musicians, and singers who lent their talents to a day that drew more than 1,000 people from 25 different nations.

After the procession, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass in the gymnasium at St. John Neumann School. He offered a moving homily that talked about the sanctity of family, which was the day’s theme, and reminded the crowd that they were part of a larger community of the faithful.

“You are here as people from various traditions, but you’re not just here as a Hispanic community,” he said. “We create a human family that includes everyone. We’re Catholics and we belong to a church that is worldwide ... we don’t give up who we are individually, but we share our humanity with every human being. Sometimes, as in our own families, we do not agree with all the ways others live their lives, but we have to remember we are all children of the same God, and we must interact and treat each other with dignity.”

After Mass, participants shared a box lunch and watched a cultural program that included singers, dancers and musicians from Holy Cross and St. John of the Cross Church in Batesburg-Leesville.

“This celebration is a sign of unity and hope for the Church here in South Carolina,” said Gustavo Valdez, director of Hispanic ministry. “We were all united by a common denominator. The Christian family of God gathered to celebrate the Eucharist with our shepherd, Bishop Guglielmone. We all have different cultural backgrounds, but the same goal — to be part of the Catholic culture of life, love and unity among diversity.”

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Adornos raise funds to help their Filipino house rebuild after typhoon

Sometimes big storms also bring big blessings.

That is a lesson Adorno Father Teodoro “Ted” Kalaw has learned in recent weeks.

He has been organizing fundraising efforts statewide to repair damage to his order’s Theology House in Lipa City, Philippines, which was hit by Typhoon Glenda in mid-July.

Father Kalaw, parochial vicar at Jesus Our Risen Savior Church in Spartanburg, originally helped raise funds to build the house by holding concerts with two of his fellow Adorno priests. He was overjoyed when the home to five seminarians was completed in June.

Barely a month later, the storm hit and his spirits were crushed.

“I kind of felt destroyed, asking ‘What is going on, I don’t understand,” the priest said. “But I learned that God has a better plan, God will make it stronger if we build our faith in Him.”

The actual structure of the house was spared, but much of the surrounding soil was washed away, causing flooding and massive drainage problems which led to cracks in the building. The garage was destroyed and the one car the seminarians used was washed away.

There was no insurance available so the full cost to fix the property damage fell to the Adorno Fathers.

Father Kalaw said the repairs alone totaled more than $65,000, on top of the money that was still owed on the new building.

Despite his sadness, he and his fellow Adornos in South Carolina prayed and decided to do what they could. They received permission from Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone to take up second collections for the repair efforts. He said about $11,000 was raised at Jesus Our Risen Savior, and donations came to $15,000 at Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek. A future collection is planned at St. Philip Benizi Church in Moncks Corner.

Individuals also donated privately.

After all the giving was done, more than $130,000 had been raised, enough to complete the repairs, pay off the mortgage debt on the house and purchase a new car for the seminarians.

Father Kalaw will travel to the Philippines soon to check on the work, which he said is about 95 percent complete.

“Because of the repairs, the Theology House is now stronger because the drainage has been fixed, so no matter what water comes, it won’t be affected,” Father Kalaw said. “The overwhelming support and response of the people was amazing. This experience has not only strengthened the structure, but strengthened our faith. No storm can destroy us. Maybe our property was damaged, but never our faith.”

   

Burglary at St. Benedict's Store does not rob owners of their compassion

GREER -- Even a Catholic bookstore isn’t safe from crime.

St. Benedict’s Catholic Store was the victim of a burglary sometime during the early morning hours of Oct. 16.

Someone broke into a back window of 900 West Poinsett St., headed straight for the office and stole containers of change and small donations for things like coffee, said Kipp McIntyre, who owns and runs the store along with his wife, Stephanie. The thieves left with no more than $40.

“They were so quick there was a line of nickels and dimes strewn around the back yard and into the neighboring yard,” McIntyre said. “It was mostly rolled coins, dimes and nickels.”

The window has since been repairedNo religious objects were disturbed, damaged or taken. St. Benedict’s carries books and Bibles as well as statues, jewelry, rosaries and other items.

“There was nothing else out of place,” he said. “What we consider a miracle is there was a statue of the Blessed Mother wearing a lace mantilla not inches from the window that was smashed. There was glass all across the store and the statue was not touched.”

The incident took place less than a week after the store’s two-year anniversary. It opened on Oct. 10, 2012, a result of the couple’s mutual vision to help more people learn about the faith.

So far there are no suspects, but local police are still investigating.

Community outreach has been part of St. Benedict’s mission since it opened, and the McIntyres have been moved by an outpouring of support and sympathy. Local people stopped by to check on them and also helped with donations to repair the estimated $1,000 cost of fixing the window, which has already been replaced.

“The experience has helped us carry on the community conversation about what it means to be Catholic today,” Mr. McIntyre said. “We live the Gospel and we try everything we can to help folks see in us the tangible benefits of being a practicing Catholic.”

Many people who stop by are outraged that thieves would target a religious store, but the owners are urging everyone not to be angry, but instead to pray for those who committed the crime.

 

   

Ask about religious callings during Vocations Awareness Week

SOUTH CAROLINA—People who have joined the priesthood or entered religious life are typically encouraged to do so by at least three people, according to a study conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

“When three or more people encourage someone to consider a religious vocation, he or she is far more likely to take serious steps toward answering that call,” said Father Shawn McKnight, USCCB’s executive director of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

So if you know someone who may have a calling to consecrated life, don’t hesitate to tell them and support that potential — you could be the difference in someone choosing to become a priest, brother or sister.
In fact, during National Vocations Awareness Week celebrated Nov. 2-8, the diocesan This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it is challenging everyone to ask three young people if they have ever thought about the priesthood or religious life, said This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

He said it is amazing how many students are never asked that question, even in Catholic schools.

“It’s surprising how many students there are, even in college, who haven’t heard that word — and they’re Catholic — and they haven’t heard of vocations,” Gaeta said.

So talk to your children, talk to your students, talk to the kid sitting next to you in church.

It is just one of many things people can do to support vocations.

It’s also important for youth to see priests and religious sisters as real people, so encourage your children to ask questions and talk to their pastor about his own childhood and how he followed God’s call, Gaeta said.
In addition to nurturing the discernment process, Gaeta said the diocese’s seminarians also need support.

There are currently 12 men engaged in the process. Read their profiles at www.CharlestonVocations.com and say a personal prayer for them.

“Praying for them is the No. 1 way to provide support,” Gaeta said.

He also encourages people to write letters to the seminarians, noting that their addresses can be found on the website.

Another suggestion from the USCCB advises each person to reflect on their own vocation and strengthen their personal relationship with Christ, and educate young people about the importance of silent prayer and taking the time to truly listen to God’s voice in our hearts.

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