Since childhood, Vernessa Baker has witnessed a lot of growth and change at St. Jude Church in Sumter.
She attended the parish school during her elementary years and went to Mass there for many years with her Catholic husband before she herself joined the faith about 20 years ago.
Now, she’s organizing St. Jude’s 75th anniversary celebration which will be held Nov. 1.
Priests from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate came to Sumter in 1939 to found the church.
“It started as a predominantly black parish, a missionary church for the black community,” Baker said. “Now, it’s become a truly multicultural church. Working on this event has been exciting and tiring, but brought a feeling of joy more than anything else. It’s wonderful to hear the stories people tell.”
St. Jude was a beacon of hope for members of the community who had to live in the thick of segregation. Sisters of St. Mary of Namur from Buffalo arrived in 1948 to work with the Oblates, and opened St. Jude School in August of that year. The parish also helped support St. Jude Catholic High School, which closed in 1997.
St. Jude existed as its own separate parish until 2010, when it was merged with St. Anne Church to form the Catholic Community of Sumter.
In recent years, the Spanish-speaking community has grown, and Mass is now celebrated at the West Oakland Avenue site at 1 p.m. every Sunday. There is also a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe on the property which has become a popular place to stop, pray and meditate.
You can read more about the history of St. Jude and how members are celebrating the milestone anniversary in the Nov. 6 edition of The Catholic Miscellany.
GREENVILLE—W.C. Daniels has seen a lot of change in his 92 years.
He remembers when black people and white people couldn’t worship together in Southern churches. He recalls when the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in the front yard of his beloved St. Anthony of Padua Church. And he reluctantly recites all the labels given to him — Negro, black, African-American.
“One thing however has not changed,” he told a crowd of hundreds packed into the gym at St. Anthony of Padua School on Oct. 18. “What has not changed is that I have always been Catholic, and I will always be Catholic.”
Daniels, the oldest member of the parish, joined with friends old and new Oct. 17-19 to show pride in their faith and heritage, and celebrate the church’s 75th anniversary.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone attended the Oct. 18 banquet, which featured Daniels and dozens of others sharing stories of the early years. Several people traveled from out of state to mark the milestone, and the crowd included long time members like Deacon Henry Dillard, who parish historians say was the first black Catholic ordained to the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Charleston.
Hundreds also flocked to Conestee Park on Oct. 19 for a parish picnic.
St. Anthony of Padua from its beginnings was a haven for those who faced discrimination because of their race and were also a distinct minority in the largely Protestant community. They had no place of their own to worship until the mid-1930s, when Father Sydney F. Dean, a priest assigned to St. Mary Church in downtown Greenville, started ministering to the community.
Families first worshipped together in the basement at St. Francis Hospital. Planning and construction for a mission church started in early 1939, according to a published church history, and St. Anthony of Padua was formally dedicated by Bishop Emmet M. Walsh in October of that year.
Franciscan priests and sisters have served the church since its beginning, and the current pastor is Franciscan Father Patrick Tuttle.
Membership has fluctuated over the decades. It was down to only about 150 in 2005, but a recent surge has boosted the flock to over 1,200, including more people of Asian and Hispanic heritage.
Both black and white Catholics attended the parish from its earliest years, a fact which led to the Klan’s cross-burning. That didn’t stop the faithful from attending, members said.
Gally Gallivan, who grew up at St. Anthony of Padua, remembers both the hard times and good times. His parents were one of the first white families to join the new church.
“I was a former altar boy, although I remember Father Bob threw me off the altar 18 different times for misbehaving,” he said.
Gallivan is proud that his parish has always been dedicated to ministering to people in need.
“This has always been an oasis for the poor, and I hope I’ve been influenced by what I’ve learned here,” he said. “St. Anthony’s mission is especially important in the culture we live in, which denies the importance of helping the poor.”
Theresa Lockhart, 89, has been a member for 75 years. She was not raised Catholic but said she was one of the first members of the first religious education class to convert, even though her parents didn’t approve initially.
“I can remember we studied that old Baltimore catechism,” she said, receiving laughter and knowing nods from several others, who also told stories of long study sessions memorizing passages during classes held by Franciscan nuns, who often taught outside under the trees.
“I wouldn’t be anything else but a member of St. Anthony,” she said. “I look around here and I know so many of you, many of you since you were born. I’ve had a beautiful life at this church and I’ll be here until they take me out of it.”
Education is also an important part of the St. Anthony of Padua story. The parish school was founded in 1951 to educate black students in the neighborhood surrounding the church. Classes were held in a farmhouse, then in an old cinder block building first built in 1956. After a long fundraising campaign, a beautiful new building was erected and dedicated in 2013.
Former students recalled how the school taught them not only academics, but important moral lessons.
Gwen Whitner said one day she came to school to discover that a classmate’s mother had died the night before. The boy still showed up for class.
“The sister told us that every one of us needed to work to make him feel better that day, and that was what we did,” she said. “I think if more children today learned to be empathetic like we were taught that we wouldn’t have as much trouble as we have.”
The church on Gower Street has always offered a beacon of welcome for those in need of help, physically and spiritually, and that was what drew Mary Mujahid shortly after she arrived in Greenville in 2005 after losing everything to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
She wasn’t Catholic when she started attending Mass at St. Anthony, but was drawn to the faith by the messages she heard from the pulpit and the warmth of the people.
“People say Hurricane Katrina brought me here, but I always say it was almighty God that brought me to this parish,” she said.
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VATICAN CITY—After several days of animated debate over its official midterm report, the Synod of Bishops on the family agreed on a final document more clearly grounded in traditional Catholic teaching. Yet the assembly failed to reach consensus on especially controversial questions of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and the pastoral care of homosexuals.
The synod’s last working session, Oct. 18, also featured a speech by Pope Francis, in which he celebrated the members’ frank exchanges while warning against extremism in the defense of tradition or the pursuit of progress.
Discussions in the synod hall had grown heated after the Oct. 13 delivery of a midterm report that used strikingly conciliatory language toward people with ways of life contrary to church teaching, including divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and those in same-sex unions.
The summaries of working-group discussions, published Oct. 16, showed a majority of synod fathers wanted the final document to be clearer about relevant church doctrine and give more attention to families whose lives exemplify that teaching.
The final report, which the pope ordered published almost at once after the synod’s conclusion, featured many more citations of Scripture, as well as new references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the teachings of Pope Paul VI, St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict VI.
Synod fathers voted on each of the document’s 62 paragraphs. All received a simple majority, but three failed to gain the two-thirds supermajority ordinarily required for approval of synodal documents.
Two of those paragraphs dealt with a controversial proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper that would make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion. The document noted disagreements on the subject and recommended further study.
The document’s section on homosexuality, which also fell short of supermajority approval, was significantly changed from its counterpart in the midterm report.
The original section heading —”welcoming homosexuals” — was changed to “pastoral attention to persons with homosexual orientation.”
A statement that same-sex unions can be a “precious support in the life of the partners” was removed.
The final report quoted a 2003 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters that the absence of a supermajority indicated a lack of consensus and a need for more discussion, but stressed that none of the document carried doctrinal weight. The synod’s final report will serve as an agenda for the October 2015 world synod on the family, which will make recommendations to the pope.
Pope Francis said he welcomed the assembly’s expressions of disagreement.
“Personally, I would have been very worried and saddened if there hadn’t been these temptations and these animated discussions,” the pope said, “if everybody had agreed or remained silent in a false and quietistic peace.”
“So many commentators, or people who talk, imagined they saw the church quarreling, one part against the other, even doubting the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of unity and harmony in the church,” he said.
While reassuring the assembly that the church’s unity was not in danger, Pope Francis warned against several temptations that he said had been present during the two-week synod.
One of the temptations he cited was that of “hostile rigidity” that seeks refuge in the letter of the law, “in the certainty of what we know and not of what we must still learn and achieve.” This temptation, he said, is characteristic of the “zealous, the scrupulous, the attentive and — today — of the so-called traditionalists and also of intellectuals.”
Another temptation for the synod fathers, the pope said, was that of “destructive do-goodism, which in the name of a misguided mercy binds up wounds without first treating and medicating them; that treats symptoms and not causes and roots. It is the temptation of do-gooders, of the timorous and also of the so-called progressives and liberals.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement that he was “grateful that the clarifications and deepening of scriptural and theological reflection shine consistently” through the final report. “Now the real work begins!”
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.”
“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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- October 31 2014 - November 15 2014 ‘Crafting by the Sea’
- November 01 2014 Workshop on bioethics and life
- November 01 2014 Bioethics and End-of-Life Issues
- November 01 2014 Rummage sale
- November 01 2014 Walk for Life
- November 03 2014 Talk on Magnolia Cemetery
- November 04 2014 Notre Dame Club golf outing