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Break-in foiled at St. John Church


NORTH CHARLESTON—Brother Ed Bergeron recently found the answer to the question “what’s behind door number one?” to be a rather dangerous one.

St. John Church interior - North Charleston

Brother Ed, of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, is the parish life facilitator at St. John Church and lives in the attached rectory. At about 8:30 p.m. on March 11, he was walking to the kitchen to put some ice in his Coke and heard noises coming from the church, he said. He opened the connecting door and to his surprise found an intruder standing there.

“I said ‘Buddy, you don’t want to tangle with me and I don’t want to tangle with you so you better be gone before the police arrive,’” he recalled.

Brother Ed then calmly stepped back, shut the door and locked it.

The police arrived minutes later thanks to a call by the school custodian who had seen the man and heard the break-in, Brother Ed said. The intruder was gone by then but left some clues for the crime scene team. The suspect had smashed the glass in the front door and reached in to unlock the deadbolt. In the process, he cut himself and police were able to get fingerprints and a blood sample, Brother Ed said.

Nothing was taken.St. John Church - North Charleston

“There is nothing in the church other than pews and hymnbooks, so if he wants to spend time in prayer, he’s welcome,” said Brother Ed.

The composed parish life facilitator was not shaken by the experience and had the windows fixed the next day.

“God continues to take care of me,” he said.





Pastoral assignments

CHARLESTON—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone has made four pastoral appointments for the Diocese of Charleston.

Effective March 1:


  • Father H. Gregory West, pastor at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Seneca, and St. Francis Mission in Walhalla, is appointed as the founding pastor for the Catholic community on Daniel Island; and
  • Father William S. Hearne, parochial vicar at Christ Our King Church in Mount Pleasant, is appointed administrator at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Seneca and St. Francis Mission in Walhalla.

Effective March 3:

  • Father Gregory B. Wilson, in addition to his duties as pastor of St. Mary Help of Christians Church and School in Aiken, is appointed administrator of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Edgefield.

Effective March 10:

  • Father Raymond J. Carlo, former pastor of St. Michael Church in Garden City, is appointed pastor of Corpus Christi Church in Lexington with sacramental responsibilities at Stevenson Correctional Institution.



After six decades of marriage, that’s amore

BLUFFTON—Bob Gardner, 76, and Christine Connolly, 70, are proof that it’s never too late to find love.

They both were married for a long time — he for 48 years, she for 38 — when they lost their spouses shortly after moving to the Sun City retirement village in Bluffton. They met at a big band dance in 2009 and quickly discovered they had a lot in common.

“I didn’t have marriage in my head, and [Bob] wasn’t looking for anyone, but we had a good feeling and then love grew, and then we wanted to get it blessed by God,” Mrs. Connolly said. “We were married over Thanksgiving weekend in 2010.”

Their union was one of hundreds honored at the annual Marriage Anniversary Celebration held Feb. 16 at St. Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton.

The turnout was one of the largest in its 14-year history. The church seats about 850 and was filled with people standing along the sides and crowding the narthex. About 400 couples registered in advance for the celebration and received commemorative certificates, but many attended without registering, said Kathy Schmugge, director of the Diocese of Charleston’s Office of Family Life which sponsored the event.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass and led the couples in a renewal of their vows. He thanked them for their commitment to traditional marriage and urged them to act as role models for young people.

The event drew newlyweds plus dozens of couples who had been married 50 years or more. Darrell and Dorothy Brown of Bluffton, who have been married 63 years, attended with daughter Jeaneen Campbell and her husband Andy Campbell, visiting from Helena, Mont. Mrs. Campbell said it was an unexpected treat to celebrate 30 years of marriage alongside her parents.

Joseph and Loretta Jarzynka, who attend St. Francis by the Sea Church in Hilton Head, were one of two couples celebrating 65 years. They grew up near each other in Ambridge, Pa., but didn’t meet until 1949. He was playing a basketball game with other local World War II veterans that Mrs. Jarzynka and a friend had come to watch. They now have two children and five grandchildren.

“The key to staying together as long as we have is not to argue, and to respect each other,” Mr. Jarzynka said. “Our faith has also been very important to us all this time. I know that somebody above has been watching over us.”

It was impossible to say how many participants were celebrating a second marriage after being widowed or receiving an annulment, but Mrs. Connolly said she and her husband offer a positive example for people who are seeking a relationship later in life.

“If you have lost someone, thank God for them, but don’t let the memories keep you back,” she said. “Let go and let God. Find happiness in your memories, don’t dwell in your loss and move ahead. For people who have never been married, if you find someone and love happens to come your way, let nothing stand in your way. God put that person in your path for a reason.”

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St. Joseph Church in Chester is built on a bedrock of devotion

CHESTER—It is a determined people who attend Mass in the small brick church tucked away on West End Street. As a parish, they have withstood the ups and downs of the economy, a dwindling population and an anti-Catholic bias.

The Diocese of Charleston purchased the former Presbyterian house of worship in 1854 and renamed it St. Joseph.

Changes were made over the years, such as the addition of stained glass windows and a bell tower. Priests travelled in for services until 1950, when The Oratory in Rock Hill sent St. Joseph its first resident priest. Oratorians served there until 1981. At first, the priests lived downtown in rooms provided by parishioner Lutie Eisenman. Then, in 1953, members built a rectory and parish hall on the site of a former stable.

What hasn’t changed, longtime parishioners say, are the bonds of love and faith nurtured within those walls.

“It’s a very loving and supportive parish, and it just feels like home to me,” said Anne Bond Peterson, 75. She has attended St. Joseph all of her life.

“I have so many memories here I couldn’t tell you all of them,” she said.

She recalled her late father, Jim Bond, would arrive at church in the early morning before Mass to load wood in a small stove that heated the building. In those days, parishioners provided dinner for the priest, and her family’s night was Wednesday. Her happy memories include Christmas crowds at midnight Mass and proudly watching her brother, James, who was the only altar boy for many years.

The parishioners faced challenges because they were a minority faith in the region.

“It was very difficult to be, literally, the only teenager who couldn’t eat meat on Fridays,” Peterson said. “I couldn’t belong to the only social organization for teenage girls, the Rainbows, because it was affiliated with the Masons. People didn’t understand that. There was a lot of anti-Catholic prejudice back then, but society has changed.”

Catholics now play a larger role in Chester, said Father David A. Runnion, the current pastor. Folks from St. Joseph regularly take part in ecumenical services sponsored by the local ministerial association during Holy Week, and support local food pantries and other social ministries with other churches.

Anne McMurray said the parish is the kind of place where members will call someone and check on them if they don’t show up for Mass.

They might be small, only 67 households, but that doesn’t stop people from being as active as possible,
she said.

McMurray belongs to the women’s club, whose members host monthly covered dish suppers and take part in a variety of service projects. They visit nursing homes, donate money to provide medicine for the poor and help out people in need, McMurray said. The prayer shawl ministry provides about 100 blankets and shawls a year to area hospitals and hospices.

“It’s an inspiration to those of us who are members,” McMurray said. “It’s where we belong.”

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