Friday, October 24, 2014
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Giving a few hours for life

5 P.M. Rush hour is in full swing on Grove Road near the Gantt neighborhood of Greenville. Cars, trucks, and vans speed past the Greenville Women’s Clinic, the thrum of motors punctured a few times by wails of ambulance sirens and other emergency vehicles headed to a nearby hospital.

On a small patch of earth nearby, Greg Bida sits quietly praying the rosary shortly after 5 p.m. on a Thursday, seemingly oblivious to the noise.

Bida, a member of St. Luke Church in Easley, is one of thousands of volunteers who will spend time along roadways big and small around South Carolina and the nation this fall, taking part in round-the-clock prayer vigils outside abortion clinics like this one as part of the 40 Days for Life.

“This is my sixth year doing this during the spring and fall,” Bida said. “I’m out here because I feel really strongly about pro-life issues. My sister got pregnant at a young age and choose to keep her baby, and because of that I don’t understand how anyone could go about having an abortion.”

Bida brings his rosary and missal with him for his solitary vigil.

Usually he gets no response, he said, but most people are friendly — honking horns or giving the thumbs-up sign.

Some folks aren’t so nice. Around 5:30 p.m. a man and woman in a battered green Ford Taurus station wagon stop dead in the middle of the busy road near the wooden stump where Bida sits. Other motorists jam on their brakes or swerve to avoid them. One person in the wagon yells something unintelligible and makes an obscene gesture. They turn around in a nearby driveway, drive past, turn around again and move slowly by Bida. He admits the behavior is strange, but doesn’t get upset. Eventually the green station wagon goes away. Bida quietly goes back to his rosary.

6 P.M. Three men arrive to take Bida’s place: Ray Ireland, Jim Canvin and Tommy Smith. As they prepare for their hour, they stand in the cooling afternoon air and talk about what brings them to the side of the road. They tell personal stories and describe spiritual revelations they had over the years that convinced them how precious life is and why abortion is evil.

“Just the experience of seeing our children grow up, looking at the pictures of my grandchildren, that lets me know this is a terrible, terrible sin,” Mr. Ireland said. His wife Ingrid shares his commitment. She prayed here earlier in the day and is one of the organizers of 40 Days for Life in the Upstate.

Conversation over, the three turn to what brought them here.

They stand in a small circle together, praying the rosary. Ireland reads pro-life meditations at the start of each mystery. The other two close their eyes and recite the Hail Marys fervently, uninterrupted by the last waves of rush hour that pass by.

7 P.M. Haney and Tina Armaly from Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville pull into the parking lot of the Piedmont Women’s Center, a crisis pregnancy center located right next door to the clinic. They finish a fast-food dinner they grabbed on the way to the vigil, then get out of their car, he in a three-piece suit and she in a stylish blouse and skirt. Both came straight from work.

“A while ago I was asking God to guide me, I said I want to serve you in some way,” Mrs. Armaly said. “This is what came to me. I really feel like I’m called for the pro-life cause.”

They walk toward the area where they will pray. Mr. Armaly stops for a moment near the red wooden fence that surrounds the clinic and looks at signs posted there.

“PLEASE DON’T BLOCK THE DRIVEWAY WITH YOUR VEHICLES” is written in Spanish and English. There’s something different about the Spanish sign.

Whoever made it put a small picture of the Blessed Mother surrounded by rosary beads in the top right hand corner.

Shortly after 7 p.m., they are joined by others who will share the hour with them: Richard and Marianne Stoddard and Kim Nguyen, also from Our Lady of the Rosary. The Stoddards have participated in 40 Days for Life vigils for about 10 years. Nguyen, like the Armalys, started this year.

The four greet each other, talk briefly, then begin to pray the rosary. There is no more conversation, just the gentle rise and fall of praying voices as the traffic subsides. Crickets and a few random, early-fall cicadas can be heard from the trees. When the rosary is finished, they recite other prayers and softly sing verses of hymns they know, beginning with “How Great Thou Art.”

As darkness descends, Mr. Stoddard pulls up a music track on his smartphone and the little circle of people begin to softly sing the hymn “One Bread, One Body.” Their voices carry over the road as the vigil continues into the night.


S.C. Supreme Court strikes down same-sex marriage licenses

COLUMBIA—Marriage licenses will not be issued to same-sex couples in South Carolina until a federal court weighs in on the issue, according to a decision handed down by the S.C. Supreme Court shortly after noon on Thursday.

The decision came after S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson petitioned the Supreme Court to halt marriage licenses in the state after a Charleston County judge, Probate Judge Irving Condon, said on Wednesday that he would begin accepting applications for the licenses. More than 20 couples had applied for them before today’s decision.

The state Supreme Court’s decision means no licenses will be issued in South Carolina until a federal judge rules on whether or not the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is legal. There is no indication of how long that ruling might take.

Wilson has declared his intention to continue fighting for traditional marriage in the state, as has Governor Nikki Haley.

In response to the license that was granted in Charleston County on Wednesday, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone released a statement affirming the Church’s stand on both the dignity of individuals and the sacrament of marriage.

“Our Catholic faith upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, whom we accept and love as our brothers and sisters,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “At the same time, the Church sustains that marriage is a sacrament instituted by God, not by man or by institution, and can only be between one man and one woman. It unites a husband and wife together for life and bonds them to any children that come from the union.”

Michael Acquilano, director of the South Carolina Catholic Conference, said the conference “believes in the sanctity of marriage and the importance of preserving the marital relationship for the common good of society and especially our children.”

Acquilano urged Catholics in the state to pray about the issue and “reach out to the attorney general’s office and thank them for protecting marriage in South Carolina.”



S.C. court accepts same-sex marriage application

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CHARLESTON—A South Carolina court accepted an application for a same-sex marriage license today in spite of the state's constitutional ban against the practice and the attorney general's pledge to defend it.

In a statement, Charleston County Probate Judge Irving Condon said: “As a result of the actions of the United States Supreme Court on October 6, 2014, the Charleston County Probate Court is required to accept and issue marriage licenses for same sex couples. Applications will be accepted beginning today, Oct. 8, 2104, and the Charleston County Probate Court will issue the marriage license after the mandatory 24-hour waiting period unless stayed by the South Carolina Supreme Court or other appropriate court.”

Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon and Nichols Bleckley were the first couple to apply for the license here after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned bans on same-sex marriage in five states.

On Oct. 6 the Supreme Court declined to consider appeals of seven lower court rulings that such prohibitions are unconstitutional. Another half-dozen states in the same appellate court jurisdictions also are likely to begin allowing such marriages. But the high court's refusal to hear the cases does not translate to a nationwide mandate for all states to follow them, according to Catholic News Service.

The action effectively allows same-sex marriages to begin in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin as soon as lower courts lift temporary stays that were imposed while appeals went to the Supreme Court.

Six other states within the same three federal circuit court jurisdictions would fall under those appellate rulings and could begin allowing such marriages, bringing to 30 the number of states that allow same-sex couples to wed.

Hours after the Supreme Court decision, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson released a statement saying he will keep fighting to uphold the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage.

"Until the courts rule on the matter, South Carolina will seek to uphold our state constitution," Wilson stated.

While Catholic teaching opposes discrimination against homosexuals, the Church holds that homosexual acts are always immoral and that marriage can only be a union between one man and one woman.

"Our Catholic faith upholds the dignity of every human person, including persons with same-sex attraction, whom we accept and love as our brothers and sisters,” Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of the Diocese of Charleston said in a statement released Oct. 8.

“At the same time, the Church sustains that marriage is a sacrament instituted by God, not by man or by institution, and can only be between one man and one woman.  It unites a husband and wife together for life and bonds them to any children that come from the union," he continued.

Within hours of the Supreme Court orders being released, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the temporary stay on its rulings, which overturned same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma. The other cases that now revert to lower court rulings are from the 4th Circuit and the 7th Circuit. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said county clerks could begin issuing licenses that same day.

In 89 pages of orders issued on the first day of the Supreme Court's 2014 term, it rejected appeals in seven cases in which federal courts had said laws prohibiting same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. The cases included a mixture of state constitutional amendments and legislation that banned same-sex marriages, plus appeals by couples who were married in other states and sought recognition of their unions by the states where they live. The court issued the orders without comment.

The justices' decision to not take up any of the cases came as a surprise to legal observers. The high court typically does not take up cases with nationwide implications unless there are conflicting lower court rulings. But in each of the seven marriage cases, both the winning and losing sides had asked the court to review the lower court decisions, to help clarify the overall situation.

When the Supreme Court justices consider whether to take a case, it takes four votes to put an appeal on the docket. Four justices dissented from the 2013 rulings that overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. After the U.S. v. Windsor ruling, attorneys general in some states declined to defend their bans on same-sex marriage, while others vigorously fought to keep them intact.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th, 6th, 9th and 11th circuits all have same-sex marriage cases on the docket. The Supreme Court's decision to not review the cases gives the appellate courts little new information on which to base their rulings, so it's possible that a split between circuits could still develop.

While supporters of laws allowing same-sex marriage hailed the result of the court's decision to bypass the cases, some opponents called on Congress to act.

A statement from the chairmen of two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said they were disappointed that the high court didn't take up the cases.

"All of these state laws were democratically enacted, including most by the direct vote of large majorities within just the last decade," said the Oct. 6 statement from Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. "Millions of Americans had looked to the court with hope that these unjust judicial decisions might be reversed."

"The Supreme Court's action fails to resolve immediately the injustice of marriage redefinition, and therefore should be of grave concern to our entire nation," the bishops said.

In a teleconference Oct. 6, Ted Olsen, former U.S. solicitor general and now attorney for the Virginia couple who sued for the right to marry, said the court's decision not to review any of the cases means a faster track to more states permitting same-sex marriages. Had the court accepted any of the seven cases, it would have meant a final ruling from the Supreme Court would likely come in the spring.

On the same teleconference, attorney Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal said the court's decision to pass this round might mean that although four justices would have voted to accept one or more cases, they didn't want to risk the uncertainty about whether there might be a fifth vote to overturn or uphold the lower courts. That outcome, said Davidson, might have meant same-sex marriage would become legal nationwide in one ruling.

The Family Research Council, which also opposes same-sex marriage, said in a statement from president Tony Perkins that the court's action is "in part, an indication that those on the court who desire to redefine natural marriage recognize the country will not accept a Roe v. Wade type decision on marriage."

Perkins called on Congress to advance a bill called the State Marriage Defense Act, "which is consistent with last year's Windsor ruling and ensures that the federal government in its definition of marriage respects the duly enacted marriage laws of the states."

Compiled from Catholic News Service and Associated Press reports

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People & events


Bishops Homecoming Bash
CHARLESTON—The Bishops Homecoming Bash will be held Oct. 10 from 5-7 p.m. at Bishop England High School practice field. Sponsored by the PTO. Tickets include food, drink and entry to the game: $15 adults, $10 students and $6 for 12 and under. RSVP: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Pro-life rosary
CHARLESTON—Father Joseph V. Romanoski, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, will lead a pro-life rosary and prayers on Oct. 18 from 8-9 a.m. at the Charleston Women’s Medical Center, 1312 Ashley River Road. Call Stephen Boyle, (843) 763-0681.

Fall Family Festival
SUMMERVILLE—St. Theresa the Little Flower Church, 11001 Dorchester Road, will hold its annual Fall Family Festival on Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Featuring a car show, rummage sale, crafts, games, petting zoo, entertainment, auctions, food and more. Details:

Early child loss Mass
CHARLESTON—The Office of Family Life will host an early child loss Mass on Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Church, 5 Saint Teresa Drive. Details: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (803) 547-5063.

Bioethics and end-of-life issues
CHARLESTON—A workshop on bioethics and end-of-life issues will be held Nov. 10 (corrected from Nov. 1) from 9 a.m. to noon at Roper St. Francis Hospital. Registration: Michael Acquilano, (843) 853-2130 ext. 231 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Notre Dame Glee Club
BLUFFTON—St. Gregory the Great Church will host the University of Notre Dame Glee Club in concert on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. Sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of Hilton Head and the John Paul II Catholic School leadership team. Tickets: $20 adults, $10 students. Purchase at the door or from the school or church offices. Contact: (843) 815-9988 or


Recycle for Charity event
COLUMBIA—St. John Neumann Church, 100 Polo Road, will hold its Recycle for Charity event Nov. 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m., and Nov. 2 from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Bring reusable items to the church for Habitat for Humanity, Oliver Gospel Mission, cancer patients, The Lions Club, Sistercare (, Pawmetto Lifeline ( and more. For a list of all items, check the bulletin at

Native American celebration
LEXINGTON—The Native American Catholics’ Heritage Celebration, “Amazing Grace: Balancing the Heritage and Spirituality of the Native American People”, will be Nov. 8 from noon to 3 p.m. at Corpus Christi Church, 2350 Augusta Highway. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone will celebrate Mass. RSVP by Oct. 31 to Office of Ethnic Ministries, (864) 331-2627, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Harvest Tea
FLORENCE—St. Anne Church ladies guild will hold their Harvest Tea, “Sharing our Harvest”, at the church, 113 South Kemp St., on Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. Sarah Robbins will speak on Project San Pedro and St. Anthony School’s brass ensemble will play. A reception will follow. Free with a donation to the Constance Cooper/Janet Springs scholarships.

Diocesan Rosary Celebration
KINGSTREE—The Diocesan Rosary Celebration will be held Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. at the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina, Our Lady of Joyful Hope. Bring refreshments to share. Contact: Father Stanley Smolenski, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (843) 355-3527.

Taste of the Town
MYRTLE BEACH—The 31st annual Taste of the Town sponsored by St. Andrew School will be held Oct. 21. Details:

Catholic Charismatic Conference
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH—The 2014 South Carolina Catholic Charismatic Conference, “Give Thanks, I Have Chosen You by Name”, with Father Richard McAlear, OMI, will be Oct. 24-26 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church. Cost: $52 per person, or $85 for married couples, includes lunch on Saturday. Religious or clergy are free. Registration: Ross Gamble, (803) 788- 4480, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or


St. Anthony turns 75
GREENVILLE—St. Anthony of Padua Church, 307 Gower St., will celebrate its 75th anniversary Oct. 17-19. Events include “A Taste of St. Anthony” featuring food and entertainment on Oct. 17 from 6-10 p.m. in the school gym; a banquet on Oct. 18 from 5-10 p.m. in the gym with Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, reservations required; and a parish picnic Oct. 19 from 2-6 p.m. at Conestee Park, 840 Mauldin Road. Contact: Ruby King, (864) 509-1984 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

‘Shakespeare in Hollywood’
GREENVILLE—St. Joseph’s Catholic School Fine Arts Department will perform “Shakespeare in Hollywood” Oct. 30 through Nov. 2. Details:

St. Mary open house
GREENVILLE—St. Mary School’s open house week will be Nov. 3-7. Tour the campus, meet faculty and ask questions. Schedule a tour with Nelle Palms, (864) 679-4117 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

St. Joseph’s open house
GREENVILLE—St. Joseph’s Catholic School open house for fall 2015 admissions will be Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. on campus. Learn about the school, tour the facility with students, and meet teachers and coaches. Call (864) 234-9009.


Women’s vocation discernment
SAVANNAH, GA.—A vocation discernment day will be held Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament Church, 1003 E. Victory Drive. For Catholic women ages 18-35. Vocation directors will be present from Daughters of Charity; Glenmary Home Mission Sisters; Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; Sisters of Mercy; and Sisters of St. Joseph. Registration: Sister Donna Jo Loeper, SSJ, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (912) 484-7860.

The Aug. 28 article on “Backpack Buddies fills satchels and stomachs on weekends” contained an error. Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts was incorrectly identified as the Center for Creative Arts.

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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