CHARLESTON—The final Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Church was a sad event for her parishioners.
Father Henry N. Kulah, pastor, offered comfort to several people before and after the 3 p.m. liturgy held at the America Street church on March 16. He said one lady in her 70s called him after the Mass and said it was like attending a funeral.
“They would like to have [Our Lady of Mercy] still, but having it meant bearing a burden that was way too much,” Father Kulah said.
Our Lady of Mercy, a traditionally African-American parish, was closed recently because it simply didn’t have enough members to keep it going, said Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone.
Parishioners said they usually had about 20 people at the weekly Mass, but noted that everyone was 45 or older, with no young folks in attendance.
“We’re sorry to see the church close, but the signs were there,” said Veronica McDaniel. “It’s an aging parish.”
McDaniel, along with her husband Wade, attended Our Lady of Mercy for over 30 years. She said they watched the neighborhood change and people move away. Children grew up and found different churches until only a core group remained.
In recent years, the McDaniels and others have become involved with ministries and social events at St. Patrick Church as well, where Father Kulah also serves as pastor. With the official closing of Our Lady of Mercy, many members signed on with the sister church, St. Patrick.
Mrs. McDaniel said there is continuity with the pastor and the community, but she understands how difficult it is for people who have attended Our Lady of Mercy for generations. The church on America Street was founded in 1928 with a starting Sunday school class bursting with 71 children.
Annabell Seabrook, who has been a member for 42 years, recalls a thriving parish full of community spirit and enthusiasm. Like most other members, when Seabrook started attending Our
Lady of Mercy she lived in the neighborhood and could walk to church, greeting family and friends along the way.
She remembers when the downstairs level housed a clinic for children, and how Sister Marguerite would bring a trailer full of clothing to donate to people in the neighborhood. They had a band with guitars and bongo drums for the kids, and would hold fashion shows to raise money.
“It was always a close-knit group with 50 to 60 families,” she said.
But the numbers dwindled as people moved and children went elsewhere. In the last two years, Father Kulah said, the church has been a quiet place with no new members, no marriages and no baptisms.
As Seabrook sadly notes, “When you have no children, you have no church.”
The closing Mass was celebrated by Bishop Guglielmone and Father Kulah, along with Fathers Dennis Willey and Jeffrey Kendall, former pastors, and attended by the Knights of Peter Claver and a strong crowd from the community.
Bishop Guglielmone said the Mass was a chance to give thanks for the many years of service, and while it was melancholy, the church will continue to serve the people’s needs. Already, members of Our Lady of Mercy have been welcomed by St. Patrick, where most have friends and family.
Father Kulah said he hopes familiarity will make it easier for them to feel at home.
The church will continue as part of Neighborhood House, which has occupied the first floor/basement since 1952, providing outreach ministry through its soup kitchen, clothing center and education programs.
“Neighborhood House is serving the needs of the people and right now that is not a worship need,” the bishop said, “they are reaching out to the poor in the community.”
DANIEL ISLAND—It’s official! The Catholic Community of Daniel Island has a new name, approved by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on April 2.
From now on, the parish and eventual church will be known as St. Clare of Assisi.
St. Clare was a privileged daughter of a count who chose a life of poverty. She became a female counterpart to St. Francis and established the Order of the Poor Clares.
Father H. Gregory West, pastor, said St. Clare was the top vote-getter among parishioners and is a beautiful choice, as her name echoes the messages of Pope Francis regarding humility, prayerfulness, and a deep love for the Eucharist.
The process of finding a name started about a month ago, when the priest was first appointed founding pastor of the Daniel Island community. He said members of the community were asked to choose a unique name, one that was not already associated with another parish. When all the nominations were submitted, there were about 30 names, which were whittled down to 16 by the bishop.
Community members then voted on the 16, narrowing it down to the top three: St. Clare of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bernadette of Lourdes. A second vote gave the victory to St. Clare, which was approved by the bishop.
The community will be canonically established as St. Clare of Assisi parish on Easter Sunday and will celebrate their first Mass as a parish that morning at 9:30 a.m. in the Bishop England gym. Father West said Mass is usually celebrated in the school’s performing arts center.
The next step for the growing community is to establish a building committee to begin the search for land. Father West said it is not a given that the church will be located next to Bishop England.
“We have to think boldly and well beyond our own life span,” he said. “We expect this will become a very large parish.”
HILTON HEAD—The Catholic Miscellany received five awards from the South Carolina Press Association recently.
In the associate/individual newspaper category, the bi-weekly took second place for best newspaper publication.
Third place for best feature writing went to staff writers Amy Wise Taylor and Christina Lee Knauss for “Kids say the darndest things: Papal edition”; and third place for best sports reporting went to Taylor for “John Hawkins throws cancer out”.
Page designer Caroline Nelson received a second and third place award for best graphic design of “Class of 2013” and “Annual financial report”, respectively.
The awards were announced at the association’s annual meeting held March 22.
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SUMMERVILLE—Summerville Catholic School will hold an oyster roast on April 5 from 6-10 p.m. Cost: $30 per family for four people or less, $15 individual. Tickets: (803) 873-9310.
‘Joy of the Gospel’ mission
GOOSE CREEK—Immaculate Conception Church, 510 St. James Ave., will hold a Lenten parish mission, “The Joy of the Gospel”, on April 6-9 at 7 p.m. Speakers include Tony Melendez and Brent Heiser. Additional sessions will be held after the 8:30 a.m. daily Mass, and April 7-9 at 2 p.m. Call the church, (843) 572-1270.
St. Joseph fish fry/bake
CHARLESTON—Knights of Columbus Council 10334 will hold a fish fry and bake each Friday through Lent at St. Joseph Church center, 1695 Wallenberg Blvd., from 5-7 p.m. with a bake sale by the ladies club.
YONGES ISLAND—St. Mary Church will participate in the April-In-Meggett Arts and Crafts show on April 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Meggett Town Hall, 4776 S.C. Highway 165. Features: local arts and crafts, plus antique tractors and cars, and food booths.
Singles home and garden tour
Corpus Christi Lenten dinners
LEXINGTON—Knights of Columbus will hold Lenten fish dinners on Fridays from 5-7:30 p.m. through April 11 at Corpus Christi Church, 2350 Augusta Highway. Adults $7, kids 10 and under $5, families of four or up $20.
Life in the Spirit retreat
Women’s discernment retreat
WINNSBORO—A Spring Women’s Discernment Retreat will be held April 11-13 at White Oak Conference Center for single Catholic women ages 18-49. Register at www.Charleston Vocations.com or call the Office of Vocations, (800) 660- 4102.
‘Knight at the Ballpark’
MYRTLE BEACH—The Knights of Columbus will sponsor “A Knight at the Ballpark” for Pelican’s baseball on April 3 at 7 p.m. Tickets: $10. Tickets available at St. Andrew Church office, 3501 N. Kings Highway, until April 2.
Girl Scout religious medal retreat
‘Fiddler on the Roof’
GREENVILLE—St. Joseph’s Catholic School will present “Fiddler on the Roof” on April 4-5 at 7 p.m., and April 6 at 3 p.m. Tickets: www.sjcatholicschool.org.
St. Mary testing
Engaged Encounter weekends
SIMPSONVILLE—Upcoming Engaged Encounter weekends in English and Spanish will be held April 26-27 at St. Mary Magdalene. Registration: cce-sc.org. Details: (864) 232-1222.
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