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Diocese sues insurance company for millions on abuse settlement claims

CHARLESTON—The Diocese of Charleston filed a lawsuit in February against an insurance company for refusing to pay out on millions of dollars in claims. Those claims included reimbursement for monies paid to the victims of sexual abuse by priests or Church personnel.

The settlements being disputed were for victims of abuse which occurred between the early 1950s to the late 1970s. Various insurance companies covered the diocese for general liability during that time, but those policies were eventually bought out by ACE-USA, said A. Peter Shahid Jr., general counsel for the diocese.

No court date has been set for the lawsuit against ACE-USA affiliated insurance companies. Shahid said despite repeated demands, the company has denied they are responsible for reimbursement and refuses to pay the benefits for the claims under their policies.

“We believe that the amount of money we paid out that would be under their umbrellas is close to $11 million,” he said.

Those claims would be applied to the costs of the Diocese of Charleston’s 2007 class action settlement agreement with the victims of sexual abuse. The diocese entered into a class action settlement to address all credible abuse allegations against clergy, religious and lay diocesan personnel. It resulted in a settlement of nearly $12 million for claims and expenses. The diocese stated in its 2008 financial report that those costs were funded from insurance proceeds and reserves, and accumulated investment income.

The class action settlement, which closed in 2008, provided compensation to a total of 123 claimants — 49 primary claimants, or individuals who claimed they were abused by Church personnel, and 74 loss of consortium claimants, who are spouses and parents.

Between 1950 to the present, 32 priests have been accused with a credible allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor in which the abuse occurred within the Diocese of Charleston, said Maria Aselage, media relations director, in a statement to The Catholic Miscellany. A credible allegation has to meet one of three criteria: the diocese paid out money related to the allegation, the priest or Church personnel confessed to the allegation, or the allegation was determined credible by an independent source, i.e., a judge or the Sexual Abuse Advisory Board.

Divided by decade, the diocese’s statement shows that the total of credible allegations against priests or Church personnel included: 13 credible allegations from the 1950s; nine in the 1960s; five in the 1970s; none in the 1980s; two in the 1990s; three between 2000 and 2010; and none since then. The diocese has not released names of the accused.

The Diocese of Charleston adopted a policy addressing sexual abuse allegations in 1994. It included a commitment to protecting the community; the observance of civil law; shared responsibility; full disclosure of allegations; and respect for the individuals involved. The policy has since been updated to include background screening, mandatory safe environment education of Church personnel and volunteers, and a victim assistance coordinator.

The diocese encourages all victims and those who have knowledge of any sexual misconduct to contact civil authorities in their area. To receive help and guidance from the Diocese of Charleston, call Louisa Storen, the victim assistance coordinator, at (800) 921-8122 or the Office of Child Protection Services at (843) 853-2130, ext. 209.

 

 

St. Clare of Assisi celebrates first Mass

DANIEL ISLAND—On Easter Sunday, a spirit of hope and new beginnings filled the gymnasium at Bishop England High School as more than 1,000 people celebrated the first Mass for the new St. Clare of Assisi parish.

“I was so overjoyed, it was just one of the most joyful times for me,” said Betsy Sarsfield, a parishioner. “You could just look around and see that this parish is going to be wonderful. It’s going to be like what we’ve dreamed about. This was the day we had waited for. All our time and talent was worth it.”

Sarsfield was a founder of the Good Shepherd Club, a group of Catholics on Daniel Islander who met together beginning in 2012 for spiritual and social events. The group was a way for people to get to know each other and it quickly grew to more than 350 members who now form the foundations of the new parish.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone announced the establishment of the parish in January, and approved the St. Clare of Assisi name on April 2.

The Easter liturgy drew a wide range of people, from young families to senior citizens. Visitors to the area also attended, including some who drove from Bluffton to visit relatives. A guest harpist from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra accompanied the choir.

Organizers had set up 500 folding chairs, and Sarsfield said they were overjoyed to see the chairs fill up and people quickly begin to fill the bleachers.

Father H. Gregory West, pastor, said the day was a chance to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the growth of the Church.

“We were celebrating not just the present, but what the future is going to bring,” Father West said. “People had been praying for a new parish on Daniel Island for years, and in God’s time, the time came. They are just ready to get to work to build this community. There’s a lot of relief and faith-filled excitement.”

John and Mary Gilsenan, from Daniel Island, attended the Mass, and Mr. Gilsenan said the morning of worship and fellowship was a special blessing for the couple.

“There was no shortage of reverence or solemnity even though we were in the gym, and there was nothing halting or hesitant about the spirit in the congregation,” he said.

Amy Dietrich said the Mass was “the best Easter gift” for her family and for the community.

“We are now able to worship and pray together with our neighbors and friends on a regular basis,” she said. “There was this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment that we have brought God back to the center of our lives here on Daniel Island.”

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Chrism Mass calls priests to simplicity, mercy

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone invited more than 100 priests to commit themselves to lives of compassion and simplicity at the annual chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston on April 15.

The solemn, meaningful ceremony, traditionally held on the Tuesday of Holy Week, has a twofold purpose. It is also called the Mass of the Oils because the bishop consecrates sacred oils to be used in sacraments over the coming year. The clergy also renew their priestly vows and commitment to ministry.

The three sacred oils are the oil of catechumens, used in baptism; oil of the sick, which anoints those who are ill, and the oil of sacred chrism, the Church’s chief anointing oil used to bless new churches, altars and other sacred objects.

In his homily, Bishop Guglielmone reflected on the Scripture readings used for the Mass, which stay the same year after year. They include passages from Isaiah, the Book of Revelation and Luke’s Gospel, all focused on God’s covenant with his people and the importance of those he anoints and calls to be their leaders and shepherds.

“The words of these Scriptures focus on priestly commitment, and the Church asks us to take them very seriously,” he said. “I’ve heard these words proclaimed over and over at chrism Masses over the past 40 years, and to me they are at the core of what it is to be a priest. They have never loomed so large over the priesthood as they do now.” He reflected on the actions of Pope Francis, who “constantly surprises” him with new ways of expressing a deep, passionate commitment to simplicity and mercy. He mentioned the pope’s dismissal of luxury, his restructuring of many Vatican positions and finances, and insistence that Church leaders should commit themselves to simple lives.

“The pope offers a constant challenge to priests, bishops, and all involved in ministry that we have to get back to the basics, back to the simplicity of Christ,” the bishop said. “He recently told a group of seminarians in Rome that they are not preparing to be functionaries, but shepherds, and they should perhaps choose another path if that is not the way they are prepared to live.” He urged lay people in attendance to pray constantly for their priests and also for him. Many times, he said, it is hard to focus on being a shepherd when priests must also act like an accountant, a building manager and a human resources manager.

“There is so much administrative work demanded of us that prayer and personal ministry are not always at the center of what we do,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “There is not time to do it all, but it is still possible to live the lives to which we are anointed and ordained, lives of reaching out to God’s people with joy and enthusiasm. Pope Francis is calling us to be a Church that is not wagging its finger at people, not scolding them, but inviting people and befriending them. It’s a mission of compassion, of love and of mercy.”

Bishop Guglielmone congratulated new priest Father Renaurd West, who was ordained in June 2013. He honored three who are newly incardinated and now officially priests of the Diocese of Charleston: Father Henry N. Kulah, pastor of St. Patrick Church in Charleston; Father Daniel R. Papineau, administrator at St. Benedict Church in Mount Pleasant; and Father Noel Tria, administrator of St. Mark Church in Newberry, Holy Spirit Mission in Laurens and St. Boniface Church in Joanna.

The bishop also welcomed priests from the Oratory in Rock Hill and Mepkin Abbey, and noted a special guest, Bishop Emeritus Victor Galeone of the Diocese of St. Augustine, who now lives at the abbey.

Afterward, the priests enjoyed a luncheon at the Cathedral Center, and took time to reflect on a happy day together, despite rain and wind that moved in during the Mass.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect on the vocation we have through God’s grace, the vocation that I love,” said Father C. Thomas Miles, pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church on Folly Beach. “It’s a chance to reaffirm my commitment as a priest.”

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People & events

Canonization/Divine Mercy events

The following are some of the churches with special events planned for the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II on April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday:
BLUFFTON—…St. Gregory the Great Church, 333 Fording Island Road, will hold an outdoor Mass on the green April 27 at 10:30 a.m. Details: (843) 815-3100.

CHARLESTON—…The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 120 Broad St., will celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy with a holy hour and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and benediction on April 27 at 3 p.m. Details: charlestoncathedral.com.

COLUMBIA—…St. Peter Church will hold Solemn Choral Vespers on April 27 at 3 p.m. at 1529 Assembly St. Reception follows. Childcare available. Details: visitstpeters.org.

GREENVILLE…—Our Lady of the Rosary Church, 3710 Augusta Road, will hold a Divine Mercy Sunday Celebration April 27 beginning at 3 p.m. Sister Anne Shields, S.G.L., from Catholic Renewal Ministries, will be the guest speaker. The event includes the chaplet, eucharistic adoration, confession, benediction, Divine Mercy Mass, and a Polish meal. Dinner reservations required: www.olrgreenville.net or (864) 422-1648.

LEXINGTON…—Corpus Christi Church, 2350 Augusta Highway, will hold a television viewing of the canonization, live from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in the parish youth center at 3 a.m. April 27 with light refreshments. The main celebration starts at 3 p.m. with the chaplet. The Divine Mercy Image will be available for veneration all weekend. The sacrament of reconciliation will be offered April 26 from 3:30–4:30 p.m.

ROCK HILL…—St. Anne’s youth group will hold an Exalt contemporary praise and worship celebration April 27 at 7 p.m. in the church, 1694 Bird St., with Father Paul Nguyen speaking on the new saints. Call, (803) 329-2662.

COASTAL

Memorial Mass for Bishop Thompson set for May 23
CHARLESTON­—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone will celebrate a Mass in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 120 Broad St., at 6 p.m. on May 23 in honor of the late Bishop David B. Thompson and the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination. Bishop Guglielmone will bless Bishop Thompson’s tombstone afterward.

Bishop Thompson was ordained a bishop on May 24, 1989, and lead the Diocese of Charleston until 1999. He died Nov. 24, 2013, at age 90.

The Mass and blessing are open to all who would like to honor his service to the Church during his active ministry and retirement.

St. John School/Church fetes
NORTH CHARLESTON…—St. John Church and School will host “A Taste of Italy” food sampling and wine pairing on April 25 from 6:30-10 p.m.; a Family Fun Fair April 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a social and dance from 6:30-10 p.m.; and an anniversary Mass at 11 a.m. followed by a barbecue on April 27. Details: www.saintjohncatholicsc.org/schoolsite/auction.php or (843) 744-3901.

Silent auction
CHARLESTON…—The Cathedral Women’s Club will hold a silent auction before and after Masses on May 3-4 in the parish hall, 120 Broad St. Contact: Erin Burris (843) 597-5514 or Denise LaRue, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

PIEDMONT

Our Lady of La Vang celebration
GREENVILLE—…The Vietnamese celebration of Our Lady of La Vang will be May 4 at noon in Our Lady of the Rosary Church, 3710 Augusta Road. RSVP: Michael Tran, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (864) 704-6559.

Toddler Time
ANDERSON—…Toddler Time at St. Joseph School, 1200 Cornelia Road, will be April 29 at 10:30 a.m. for families with children 4 and under. Details: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call the school, (864) 760-1619.

Learn about Lay Carmelites
GREENVILLE—…Learn about the Lay Carmelite Community at their May 3 meeting following the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 8 Gillin Drive. Call, (864) 320-7889 or (864) 287-5495.

Operation Hope Poker Run
GREENVILLE—…Knights of Columbus Council 10819 will hold an Operation Hope Poker Run for motorcycles and sports cars on May 3. Registration at 10 a.m. Cost: $25. Register at www.operation hopepokerrun.com. Contact: Jerry Stevens, (864) 286-1032 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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 click on submit news.

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