Sunday, February 01, 2015
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Give a nod to the flu instead of a handshake

If you’re at Mass and people don’t shake hands during the sign of peace or the chalice is not offered at Communion, don’t be offended.

It’s probably part of the battle against a particularly nasty flu season this year.

Several parishes in the diocese have already suspended use of the chalice and the sign of peace because of the flu. In a Jan. 6 memo to pastors, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone encouraged others to consider these options but is not requiring it. Each priest will make his own decision regarding his parish.

The spread of influenza around the country has been severe and did not lessen over the holidays as it sometimes does when people are away from work and school, officials said.

Currently, 43 states report heavy flu outbreaks, and in South Carolina 38 flu deaths have been reported this season, according to figures released in early January by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Msgr. Richard D. Harris, vicar general for the Diocese of Charleston, said many lay people, priests and hospital administrators had requested that the use of the chalice and the exchange of peace be suspended during flu season.

In the memo, Msgr. Harris stressed the fact that the “fullness of the Lord” can be received by consuming the body of Christ at the Eucharist, and drinking the Precious Blood is not necessary to get the full benefits of the sacrament.

He also said that people who refrain from receiving the chalice or shaking hands at any time during the year when they feel sick should not be accused of showing disrespect.

Some pastors took action against the flu before the memo was released.

Use of the chalice was suspended in December at St. Peter Church in Columbia, said Father Gary S. Linsky, pastor.

“I had already been sick twice and noticed all of these other people at the parish were ill,” Father Linsky said. “I probably should have done it a month before because the outbreak seemed so severe. I’ve had a lot of positive response, with people saying we made the right call.”

Father Sandy McDonald, pastor of St. John Neumann Church in Columbia, decided to ask parishioners not to shake hands or hold hands during prayer after he read a newspaper story that showed Columbia as one of the area’s flu hot spots and talked with the parish nurse.

“We recommend a bow with hand folded across the chest while saying ‘Peace be with you,’” he said. “I also recommended frequent hand washing, coughing into one’s sleeve rather than in the hand, and we placed sanitizing gel dispensers at all the church entrances.”

St. John Neumann has not suspended offering the chalice, but may consider that option if the flu outbreak continues.

How can you avoid the flu?

Get a flu shot. The vaccine is highly recommended and can limit the duration and severity of the virus, said Dr. Saria Saccocio, chief medical officer at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. A good guideline is to wash for as long as it takes to say a Hail Mary.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash.

Stay home if you are sick until you have been symptom-free without taking fever reducing medicine for 24 hours.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Eat a healthy diet, exercise and get plenty of rest.


Johnson earns title of Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year

GREENVILLE—Jamila Johnson thinks nothing of driving an hour in each direction to practice with her club volleyball team.

Her level of dedication is one of the factors that helped make her the Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year for South Carolina.

Jamila first started playing the sport when she was 8. By the time she was 11, a coach recognized a high level of natural talent and potential and suggested she take private lessons.

When Jamila was in eighth grade, her family — parents Robert and Devena, older brother Justin, and twin brother Issa — moved from Indiana to Greenville. They chose St. Joseph’s Catholic School, where she promptly joined the volleyball team.

Jan Carino, school volleyball coach, said her team has won the state volleyball championship all four years that Jamila has played.

“She’s the best skilled player I’ve ever coached,” said Carino, whose career spans almost 25 years. “I’ve never had a player as strong as she is — her arm strength and arm speed are amazing.”

An outside hitter, Jamila led the Knights to a 41-3 record this season, with a state championship, and posted 430 kills, 204 digs, 183 service receptions, 41 service aces and 19 blocks.

At 5'8", she isn’t that tall for a volleyball player, but Carino said she has a good vertical jump, is smart on the court, and is seriously competitive.

“Most of the time when she was given the ball we won the point,” the coach said. “She loves the game, for sure.”

She loves it so much that for the past year she’s driven from Greenville to Columbia to play for the Magnum Volleyball Club, saying she loves the passion and dedication of the players and coaches, and the high intensity of competition.

A desire for the best is a trait Jamila brings to other areas of her life, too. A member of student council and three honor societies — national, history and Spanish — she also volunteers as a youth volleyball instructor, and at The Salvation Army and Ronald McDonald House.

She has a 4.06 grade-point average and is looking at several universities, noting that Furman is a top choice. She aspires to a career as a geneticist, with hopes for finding a cure for cancer and other diseases.

For now, she is basking in the surprise of winning the Gatorade player of the year award.

“I wasn’t sure I could get it coming from a 1-A school,” she said. “It was overwhelming — I really didn’t see it coming.”

Jamila is also a two-time Class A player of the year, and played on All- Star, All-State and All-Region teams.

Each year, the Gatorade program recognizes one winner in each state in football, baseball, softball, girls volleyball, and boys and girls cross country, basketball, soccer, and track and field.


Abortion survivor calls for love, compassion and forgiveness

COLUMBIA—The best way to learn the true horror of abortion is to listen to the story of someone who has survived one.

Melissa Ohden is an abortion survivor.

In 1977, she survived a botched saline infusion abortion and was delivered alive at a hospital in Sioux City, Iowa. Today, her life’s mission is to tell her story to people in every corner of the world in an attempt to bring an end to abortion once and for all.

Ohden brought her painful but triumphant message to hundreds in Columbia on Jan. 9-10 during the “Proudly Pro-life Weekend,” which included a dinner at Seawell’s on Rosewood Drive and the annual Stand up for Life March and Rally.

People of all ages braved freezing temperatures and brisk breezes to make the annual march from the University of South Carolina campus to the steps of the Statehouse, where they clustered together, many holding banners and signs with pro-life messages.
















The crowd included hundreds of Catholics, including many Knights of Columbus and about 600 young people, many of whom later attended the annual youth pro-life rally at the Township Auditorium. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone took part in the march and offered the opening prayer at the rally.

Everyone became silent when Ohden stepped up to the podium to tell her story.

The details are stark and heartbreaking. Her mother, a college student, hid her pregnancy from her family until the seventh month, and felt forced by them to undergo the procedure. Ohden’s own biological grandmother, then a nurse with a prominent standing in the community, was adamant that her daughter end the pregnancy.

The saline infusion method, which is no longer in use, was particularly horrific, because it involved injecting a toxic saline solution into a woman’s womb and then allowing the unborn days. Ohden said while most babies suffered through three days in the womb before death, she suffered for five days before her mother went into labor and she was born alive.

Nurses at the hospital prevented her from being left to die, she said, and she was eventually adopted by a loving family. Although doctors predicted she would have many health problems, she came through the ordeal without any.

Ohden didn’t learn about what happened to her until many years later, when her own sister was facing an unplanned pregnancy. Then, she said, her parents decided to tell her.

“When I first found out about the circumstances of my birth, I was angry,” she said. “It was the biggest blow I ever could have felt. I couldn’t understand how anyone could make that decision to kill their child. But then I realized I have nothing to be angry about. I was given the gift of life, I was given the gift of my family, and I was born perfectly healthy and whole, praise God.”

She went on to earn a degree in social work and has worked as a counselor and advocate for victims of domestic violence and the mentally ill, among other fields. She is married and has two daughters. To show how life often comes full circle, Ohden said that the oldest, Olivia, was born at the same Iowa hospital where the failed abortion took place.

She spent many painstaking hours over the years trying to locate her biological family. She is in touch with her mother, but the two have not met yet, and she and her children have met her father’s parents.

Ohden said one of the most difficult things she learned was that her birth mother thought for more than 30 years that her child had died. It wasn’t until Ohden contacted her that she realized her daughter had been alive all those years.

She said the most important thing she wants her biological parents and family members to know is that she loves them and forgives them for the terrible events that took place 37 years ago.

“I was given my life for a very particular reason,” she said. “Each and every one of us are gifted in certain ways, are given different ways to share the precious gift of life. Any anger I felt toward my family quickly subsided to grief for men and women who feel forced to make the painful decision of abortion. Everything I do is about love, because love ultimately wins at the end of each day. Forgiveness is a deliberate decision you make, and it has set me free.”

She urged the crowd to make sure that love and compassion remain at the center of all their pro-life work, and that they especially make an effort to reach out to women who have had an abortion and are suffering pain and desperation because of it.

“My mother is undergoing some healing that comes from the fact that she knows her child is alive,” she said. “We need to remember women like her are why we do what we do, because so many people are in pain and need to be healed from abortion.”


People & events


Santo Niño Fiesta
NORTH CHARLESTON—The Cofradia del Santo Niño de Cebu will hold a fiesta in honor of Baby Jesus on Jan. 17 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 6650 Dorchester Road. Rosary will start at 10 a.m. followed by Mass, procession and a reception. Details: Joy Kabaitan, (843) 452-4195 or Thelma Delacruz, (843) 743-5363.

SCCCW deanery meeting
CHARLESTON—St. Patrick Church women’s guild will host the SCCCW Coastal Deanery annual meeting on Jan. 18 at 12:30 p.m. at Figaro hall, 134 St. Philip St. Cost: $25. Call Beverly Buford, (843) 723-6066.

OLM Outreach auction fundraiser
CHARLESTON—Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach will host its Sharing Blessings Changing Lives Auction on Jan. 25 from 1-4 p.m. at the Charleston Marriott Hotel, 170 N. Lockwood Blvd. Tickets: $100, include a silent auction, cocktails, dinner and live auction. Items include stays at vacation properties in Ireland, New Zealand, and Italy; Charleston Harbor Cruise; a painting by artist Rick Reinert, and more. Tickets: Jennifer Meshanko, (843) 559-4109 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Movies and Scripture
CHARLESTON—Pauline Books and Media sponsors Cinema Divina: Film, Scripture & Classic Wisdom, a combination of scripture reading and movies held monthly at 243 King St. Free, donations welcome. Bring a bagged meal, or a snack to share. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Finish at 10 p.m. Coming up: “Last Holiday” on Jan. 28, Acts 12, and Teresa of Avila. Details: (843) 577-3344.

Oyster roast and barbecue
JAMES ISLAND—Nativity Church ladies guild and Knights of Columbus Council 6250 will hold an oyster roast and barbecue Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the school hall, 1061 Folly Road. Advance tickets are $15 for oysters or $20 at the door, and $10 for barbecue or $12 at the door. Available after Masses.


‘Spirituality and Technology’
RIDGELAND—The Lowcountry Deanery of the SCCCW will hold a colloquium on “Spirituality and Technology” led by Sister Susan Pontz, SSCM, on Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. John Paul II High School, 4211 North Okatie Highway. She is director of informational technology at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. Tickets: $15, include lunch. Limit 125 people. Call Phyllis Atkins, (843) 757-4007.


St. Peter School info session
COLUMBIA—St. Peter School will hold 60-minute info sessions for parents on Jan. 22 at 12:15 p.m. and Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. with Kathy Preston, principal, at Cardinal Bernardin Center, 1529 Assembly St. Registration: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (803) 779-0036. Visit

LARCUM prayer service
COLUMBIA—The annual LARCUM prayer service will be held Jan. 25 at 4 p.m. at College Place United Methodist Church, 4801 Colonial Drive. A reception will follow. Details: Missie Walker, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

St. Peter alumni reception
COLUMBIA—St. Peter School will host its Alumni & Friends Reception on Jan. 27 from 6-8 p.m. at the Cardinal Bernardin Center, 1529 Assembly St. Speaker: Brad Muller, Catholic school alumnus and radio voice of the Lady Gamecocks. Cost: $12. Alumni of the Year award will be presented. Pay at the door or contact Marilyn Montgomery, (803) 957-1431 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Marriage celebration
COLUMBIA—The 15th annual Diocesan Marriage Celebration sponsored by the Office of Family Life will be held Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. at St. Peter Church, 1529 Assembly St., with Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone. Register by contacting the Family Life Office, (803) 547-5063 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Prayer Vigil for Life
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH—The Grand Strand Citizens for Life annual interdenominational Prayer Vigil for Life will be held on Jan. 23 at 7:15 p.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church. Pastors from six churches will lead prayers. Refreshments will be served. Details: or John Kost, (843) 626-8684.

Kindness talk
MYRTLE BEACH—The SCCCW Pee Dee Deanery will sponsor a talk on “Whatever happened to kindness? Recovering the lost art of being kind” by Sister Sandra Makowski, SSMN, JCL, diocesan chancellor, on Jan. 24 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 1100 Eighth Ave. N. Cost: $15. Registration required. Mail name, address, church affiliation and payment by Jan. 19 to Caroline Paulhus, 1407 St. Thomas Circle; Myrtle Beach, SC 29577, (843) 692-9932, or Marlene Grover, 513 13th Ave. N. Surfside Beach, SC 29575, (843) 283-4445.

A Spirituality for Relationships
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH—Father Simeon Gallagher, OFM Cap, will lead a pre-Lenten mission on “A Spirituality for Relationships” for adults on Jan. 26-29 after the 8 a.m. Mass in Our Lady Star of the Sea Church hall or at 6 p.m. in the church located at 1100 Eighth Ave. N. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will follow the Wednesday evening session. Details: (843) 249-2356.

Fundraising auction
PAWLEYS ISLAND—The women’s club at Precious Blood of Christ Church, 1633 Waverly Road, will hold an auction Jan. 22. Preview begins at 5:30 p.m., bidding begins at 6 p.m. Cash or check only. Refreshments available. Proceeds benefit the Tidelands Community Hospice in Georgetown. Details: (843) 651-3966.


St. Mary School admissions tests
GREENVILLE—St. Mary School will hold admissions testing in grades K-5 through eighth on Jan. 24 and Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. Applications and registration for testing required. Details:, or contact Nelle Palms, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (864) 679-4117.

St. Joseph School open house
ANDERSON—St. Joseph School, located at 1200 Cornelia Road, will hold an open house on Jan. 25 from noon to 3 p.m. for families of prospective students in K-4 through eighth grade. Contact the school: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (864) 760-1619.

Prince of Peace School open house
TAYLORS—Prince of Peace School, a 2014 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, will have an admissions open house for K-4 through eighth grade on Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. at 1209 Brushy Creek Road. Details: (864) 331-3911 or

‘The Fearsome Pirate Frank’
GREENVILLE—St. Joseph’s Catholic School will present the eighth-grade play, “The Fearsome Pirate Frank”, on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. at the school. Free. Details:

Mardi Gras Masquerade Gala
GREENVILLE—St. Mary Church women’s club will hold a Mardi Gras Masquerade Gala on Feb. 14 from 6:30-11 p.m. at the church hall, 111 Hampton Ave. Tickets: $30, includes dinner, music, and costume/mask contests. Visit to register. Contact: Pearlie Harris, (864) 288-8996 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Deadline is Feb. 7.

PEOPLE & EVENTS includes items of general interest and events that are open to the statewide community. To send a notice, please include time, date, location address, city and contact email and/or phone number with area code. Items are run at the editor’s discretion and publication or frequency is not guaranteed. Send notices at least three weeks in advance of publication date to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For details visit and click on submit news.


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