Saturday, December 20, 2014
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McLester McDowell, friend to all, dies at 85

McLester McDowell, before he said his daily prayers each morning, asked the Lord to “please make me a blessing to someone else.” He truly believed he was on Earth to help those less fortunate, whether they were hungry, homeless or ill.

This man of simple needs died on Oct. 20 after a brief illness. He never married but had a huge, loving family of friends and fellow parishioners.

McDowell faithfully attended Mass at St. Mary of the Angels in Anderson, but was so much more to the parish and the community. He demonstrated his faith in God by example.

He was born to sharecroppers in Anderson in 1929, served in the U.S. Army as a sergeant, and retired from his job in 1991. The next day he began volunteering at the Anderson Soup Kitchen. He quickly became chairman of the board and managed operations and volunteers every day, serving between 75 to 100 meals a day. He was also a founder of Clean Start in 1996, which is a volunteer organization created to assist the homeless with laundry, showers and job searches. He served as manager of operations at Clean Start and volunteered there three days a week.

McDowell was also a member of the Anderson Housing Authority board of directors for over 20 years, where he volunteered to assist less fortunate families in search of housing. He was so highly regarded that the community voted to name a new housing authority building the “McLester McDowell Achievement Center”.

He was an active member of the Knights of Columbus and in 2013 was named the “South Carolina Knight of the Year”. His tireless and loving service to the community has earned him acclaims from a number of prominent publications.

There was much more to this humble, kind man and words on paper will never truly portray the love and compassion he displayed.



St. Francis Cancer Center blessed by Bishop Guglielmone

GREENVILLE—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone blessed the St. Francis Cancer Center at the millennium campus on Nov. 18.

Unique to Greenville, the free-standing oncology center provides the next generation of radiation therapy, which enables Bon Secours St. Francis physicians to treat many more types of cancer —including the most challenging cases — more effectively and with fewer side effects.

Outpatient cancer-treatment services currently offered at St. Francis downtown, including infusion therapy, clinical trial research, palliative care and nurse navigation, will be relocated to the new center.

Dr. Robert Siegel, Bon Secours St. Francis oncology and hematology program director, emphasized that the new center is more than just a state-of-the-art facility.

“Treating the patient as an individual is at the heart of how we provide cancer care,” he said. "Because we recognize and respect the whole patient, the new St. Francis Cancer Center is not only an advanced treatment center, it’s also a sanctuary.”

The center also houses a boutique, on-site pharmacy, health food café, chapel and a community room for support group meetings and other activities.

For the added convenience of patients and their families, the nationally recognized STAR Survivorship program — introduced at Bon Secours St. Francis in 2008 and the first of its kind in the state — will also relocate to the millennium campus. Outpatient oncology rehab services will move to the nearby HealThy Self gym in the Millennium Medical Office 2 building.



Summerville dads organize to support their children’s school

SUMMERVILLE—The annual oyster roast and cook-out thrown by the Summerville Catholic Fathers Association has quickly become a huge success, just like the group itself.

The club was started three years ago by Travis Piscitelli, who was looking for a way for dads to be more involved with school life. They tackled several projects and quickly established an easy camaraderie, leading Piscitelli to realize “we’re more than just a work crew so let’s try to put on an event.”

He said the oyster roast was never meant to be a fundraiser; it was simply a way to say thank you to the teachers and staff, who get in free. But in just its second year, they netted enough to buy the school its own grill — saving the cost of renting one for every function — and this year brought in another $500-$700 that they’ll put toward improvements.

Lisa Tanner, principal, said all schools have involved parent volunteers, but Summerville Catholic may be the only one whose fathers are organized into a dedicated work force. The oyster roast is their biggest event, but it’s far from the only thing they do.

They helped renovate the science lab by ripping out the heavy, old tables, repainted the swing sets and shoveled sand on the playground. A number of dads also volunteer as coaches for sports at the school.

Tanner said all she has to do is email Piscitelli and before she knows it, there’s a dad at the school, ready to build stage props for a play or grill burgers for a picnic.

“It’s an opportunity for the dads to get to know each other on many levels, and it brings the whole family to be more involved in the school,” Tanner said.

It was the perfect ice-breaker into a new community for Jack Collins. A member of the U.S. Navy, Collins said he, his wife Kelley and two young children move often and struggle to start fresh each time. The fathers association has been a wonderful experience for everyone, and helped ease their transition to a new place.

He’s been a member for three years, and said the group has become like family.

“I’ve met the guys I’d consider to be my closest personal friends,” he said, adding that the wives and children have all bonded too.

Piscitelli said the group has a core membership of about 15 dads who come to everything, and about 25 who help at big events.

He said there are a lot of moms at the school who make time to volunteer during the day, but noted that dads have a tougher time carving out volunteer hours in the workday. So he wanted to create a group for those dads, so they could contribute in the afternoons and evenings, or as a family on weekends.

“We hope it gets bigger and better every year,” he said.


Be mediators of God’s goodness, Bishop says

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we approach this wonderful national holiday we call Thanksgiving, we reflect on a year that has been difficult in so many ways.

We can certainly think of our economy that is still struggling, families in situations that challenge them, a world situation of terrorism and violence, and all kinds of challenges to our faith coming from many sides. If we were to focus on these negatives, we could easily fall into depression and possibly even to despair.

However, there are so many wonderful and beautiful aspects of our lives that offer us a sense of hope and produce in us positive joy: families that are experiencing great love and affirmation; a diocese where so much growth is occurring; young people who are living their faith in beautiful ways, especially in reaching out in so many ways to those who are struggling. God is so active in our lives that no matter how many challenges to a good life that we face, He always gives us the grace to live lives of hope, joy, and peace; serenity in the midst of sometimes chaotic situations is still quite possible thanks to a caring God who loves us.

It is so important to give thanks for all these graces. Let us never forget to thank our God on Thanksgiving Day, to get to Mass if at all possible, at least to pray with our families and friends as we celebrate this day. Let us also give thanks to and for each other, for it so often happens that God’s graces are mediated through the people who pass through our lives. So often our friends and relatives offer us the affirmation that helps us to see clearly God’s presence in our lives.

May this Thanksgiving Day be an opportunity for all of us to be mediators of God’s goodness by reaching out to those who may need, in one way or another, a healing and comforting touch.

Happy Thanksgiving and may God’s blessings be yours in abundance.

Most Rev. Robert E. Guglielmone
Bishop of Charleston


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