CHARLESTON—A packed house rose to its feet and applauded the completion of Charleston Catholic School’s new building during the dedication Mass and blessing held Feb. 11 in Sacred Heart Church.
One of the longest rounds of applause was given to Fred McKay, principal, who was praised by Mayor Joseph P. Riley for his dedication to the project.
Ronnie Richter, chair of the school’s capital campaign committee, thanked everyone involved for their perseverance, noting that the project came together over the course of 10 years and the guidance and support of two bishops.
Plans to expand Charleston Catholic began under the late Bishop David B. Thompson, who secured a $1 million donation in 2004, Richter said. The project was put on hold until 2009, when supporters took it up again with fresh resolve and the blessing of newly appointed Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who has been described as a champion of education.
Cold, rainy weather forced the cancellation of some of the planned festivities at the dedication, but it didn’t put a damper on the enthusiasm of the crowd. After Mass, people wandered the halls and rooms of the new building, exclaiming over the science room and pausing to hear the band students play up-tempo songs in their new space.
An unusually wet winter also delayed completion of the project, McKay said, noting that a few details needed to be finished in the science lab and other areas. He said all the classrooms would be organized and ready to go by Feb. 18, when students return from a long weekend.
The total cost of the project was close to $2.4 million and includes office space, art and music rooms, a science lab, a roof-top plaza for educational use, and new classrooms for sixth- through eighth-graders. The upper-grade students have been housed at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist community center while construction was underway, and everyone is excited to have the whole school under one roof again.
“I’m really looking forward to having everyone back together and being like a family again,” said Grace Barnes, a fifth-grader.
Funding for the project also included converting space in the existing building into a faculty work area and breakroom, a renovated kitchen, and storage area, plus elevators, handicapped ramps, and additional restrooms.
Students will also be able to enjoy an outdoor basketball court and revamped playground.
The front room of the parish hall at St. Cyprian Church in Georgetown transforms into a riot of color on Monday nights.
Brilliantly hued bolts, squares and strips of fabric take over every surface, accompanied by the whir of sewing machines and a constant, excited stream of conversation, most of it in Spanish.
Since 2009, the parish has offered quilting classes for the Hispanic community. Each week, a dedicated group of people show up to create beautiful quilts and for friendship and spiritual support.
Two volunteers, Elva Horlings and Marilyn Sholtis, started the classes as a way to combine their love of sewing and a desire to help their community.
Horlings, who is originally from Texas and has Mexican and Spanish ancestry, is bilingual and realized she might be able to offer something especially for the large Hispanic community that attends St. Cyprian.
The sessions attract mainly women, all from Mexico.
“Many of our students have never even sat at a sewing machine before they come here, so we start with simple straight stitching, learning how to measure fabric, thread a machine and work a pedal,” said Horlings, who attends Precious Blood of Christ Church on Pawleys Island.
“It starts out like sewing 101, but then they make their first quilt, the finished product, and realize how much creativity is involved. They can make works of art that are also useful,” she said.
Each student works on a project appropriate for their skill level. Beginners make simple lap quilts created from basic squares sewn together, while others move on to ever more intricate patterns that can take more than two months to complete.
The quilters receive support from the community. Some grant money from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina purchased sewing machines especially designed for quilting. Fabric stores and individuals donate material. A woman on Pawleys Island who runs a quilting shop out of her house does the complicated sewing work required to finish the backs of the largest pieces.
Students also make small financial contributions to pay for pattern books and supplies, and pay what they can over time.
Some people look at quilts as folk art or simply heirlooms to be displayed, but the women use most of their creations at home or send them to family back in Mexico.
“I’ve learned things here I’ve never known before, and I get to be with friends and make something both beautiful and useful,” said Susanna Juan, a quilter since 2010.
Patricia Barrientos also started classes four years ago.
“I had a friend who was one of the original students, and I wanted to learn because I saw the beautiful things she was making,” she said. “Now I come because I love sewing. I love putting the quilts together, seeing all the little pieces result in something beautiful. I also come because these are my friends. I can talk about family, work, problems, anything with them.”
Quilting is a family affair for the Martinez family of Georgetown. Maria Martinez was the first to catch the bug five years ago. Eventually daughter Mitzy, 15, started coming along.
Husband and dad Juan Martinez has become the first man to take the class.
He was proud of the things Maria made and urged her to come even when schedules were tight. Then he had an idea. If he learned to sew, he said, he might be able to start his own upholstery business.
Now, he’s at St. Cyprian every week, learning how to cut and measure fabric and arrange squares for his first project, a Christmas quilt.
Maria said she didn’t even know how to work a sewing machine when she began. She was known for exclaiming “Miss Elva! Miss Elva” over and over because she always asked questions. She has completed nine quilts that she keeps with her at home, and gives others to family or as gifts. Someday, she said, she would like to have a show to display her work.
“I am so very proud of what I’ve learned to do — this is what I love to do, my hobby,” she said. “It’s great that my family comes with me, and the class has also become like my family. This is my time to come and relax and get away from everything.”
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This year, the Church’s liturgical calendar provides a rare treat; the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord will be celebrated on a Sunday. This observance is fixed to Feb. 2 and it continues the Christmas revelation of Jesus as the fulfilled light of the world.
The fact that Joseph and Mary brought the infant Jesus to the temple is similar to how parents still offer their infant children to the Lord in baptism. Every child is uniquely special and parents seek to show this by dedicating their children to God. As Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the temple, they hear more amazing news about their child.
The Gospel of Luke records that a holy man named Simeon received Jesus in the temple and announced Him to be the light of the world. Coming just after the Baptism of the Lord, Epiphany, and Christmas itself, it is no wonder that this feast has in some places been regarded as a conclusion to the Christmas season. The decorative lights of Christmas remind us all of the true light of the world born in time. Now that light is taken from the manger to the temple to begin His service.
Over the centuries, Christians have observed this day in different ways. One interesting title under which the feast has been recognized is “Candlemas.” By the 11th century it seems that the faithful would gather in some central place near their church at which the candles for the next year — both for Mass and for people to take home — were blessed.
Some would then be lit and a formal procession into the church would follow while the words of Simeon from St. Luke’s Gospel were sung. Today many parishes still bless candles on this day and despite the advances of electricity, Mass is celebrated with lit candles.
The hope offered by a simple lit candle is palpable. In a world that atrocious actions seem to suggest is without it, memorial candles can be seen in front of most locations where the loss of life is especially acute. Some Christians even still light blessed candles in their homes during especially bad storms.
Light always brings hope and Christ surpasses all we could ever hope to experience. God reminds us of His abiding care through the light He shows and revealed especially in His temple. That light is worth taking home.
CHARLESTON—Ask people what activities they associate with a college campus, and Knights of Columbus meetings probably won’t be the first thing they mention.
Citadel Council 6900 in Charleston wants to change that.
The council was founded in 1977 and has been active in varying degrees since then, said Father Dennis B. Willey, Catholic chaplain and leader of Catholic campus ministry at The Citadel.
“Sometimes the council was very active, other times they’ve struggled, but there’s been a renewed focus recently and that’s really helped with membership,” Father Willey said. “We’ve been meeting regularly for the last two years, and I’ve been very proud of the progress they’ve made. I’m very grateful for the leadership of the cadets, because it’s added work for them.”
About 70 Knights regularly attend meetings, held at noon Mondays to accommodate the cadets’ busy academic schedules.
Father Willey said several of the Knights have made their fourth degree, a major achievement.
William Pawlak, the financial secretary, became a Knight in 2011 and still attends campus meetings even though he completed his studies in 2013. He has undergraduate and masters degrees in business and currently works in the hospitality industry in Summerville.
“I wanted to get more involved in the community and get more in touch with being Catholic because I had kind of strayed away from my faith,” Pawlak said. “The Knights really helped me to rally and revitalize my interest in my faith. I’ve stayed with it because it’s nice to meet regularly with like-minded people, and it’s fun to be able to help out the cadets who are joining. The council really offers a good source of support for Catholics on campus.”
Council 6900 is the only college council in South Carolina. There are more than 210 college councils in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Poland, with an estimated membership of 20,000, according to the official Knights of Columbus website.
Father Willey said student Knights focus on the same values as others in the organization, including fraternity, service and patriotism. The meetings also includes time for faith formation, with focus on Scripture, church teachings and how to apply it all to daily life.
During the 2013 football season, Council 6900 earned money by working at a concession stand and in the parking lots at Citadel football games. On Jan. 27, they gave a $2,500 donation to Crisis Ministries in Charleston to fund a living cubicle for a homeless veteran. Father Willey said they hope to raise a similar amount for the veterans’ shelter program during the 2014 season.
“The cadets voted for the veterans shelter for a service project because they have a strong attachment to the military, not only because we’re a military college but many of them will hopefully go on to serve our country,” he said.
The Knights also helped at the annual fundraising auction for Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach on Johns Island on Jan. 26.
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