HILTON HEAD ISLAND—Mary Ann Turner of Greenville had immigrant parents who taught their children three important lessons.
“We learned love of church, love of God, and that you always give back,” she said. “You don’t have to be rich to give of yourself and give what you can.”
Turner has tried to follow that advice through a faith-filled life of service that led to her being named the Catholic Woman of the Year by the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women during their 84th annual convention March 28-30.
She was one of 179 women who spent three days of prayer, learning and fellowship at Hilton Head’s Sonesta Resort. Many of the workshops and discussions echoed the convention’s theme: “Help carry one another’s burdens; in that way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2).
Turner is a firm believer in that Scripture passage. She and her husband Dave volunteer with Guardian Ad Litem, serving as advocates for children who are under the care of the Department of Social Services. Among many duties, she volunteers at the library, helps with fundraisers for St. Anthony of Padua School in Greenville, works in the spiritual care office at a local hospital, brings the Eucharist to the ill and homebound, and has taught RCIA classes at St. Anthony of Padua Church. The Turners have three children and four grandchildren.
“My parents always did everything they could to let us know how important it was to give back to others with the gifts God has given to you,” Turner said. “It does not matter the color, the race, the origin of the people you encounter. You just help them and show them love.”
Daughters of Charity Sister Josephine Murphy was named Religious Woman of the Year. Since 2006, she has worked at St. Cyprian Church in Georgetown and helped with programs for the poor, including a soup kitchen and a local community center that helps men recently released from prison.
“I say to God be the glory, because everything I have comes from God,” Sister Josephine said. “Over the years I have asked Him for things and we got it. God has said how much he loves the poor, and I truly believe that.”
Sister Josephine, now 85, grew up in Richmond and joined the Daughters of Charity at age 17. Before she arrived in South Carolina, she spent 14 years at St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home in Maryland. After Easter, she is returning to her order’s motherhouse in Emmitsburg, Md., where she said she will continue to help elderly and sick sisters and pray for people in Georgetown.
“I have loved every minute of my life,” Sister Josephine said. “I wouldn’t change my life for anything or anybody.”
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass for the women on March 29 and was the keynote speaker at the awards banquet. He thanked them for the work they do in their parishes and communities. He also asked them to consider praying about and advocating for several issues: improving the quality of public schools in South Carolina, increasing opportunities for scholarships in Catholic schools, and educating others about the Church’s continued struggle for religious freedom, especially in relation to the Affordable Care Act.
The focus on giving continued in workshops offered by workers from Cross International and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, who discussed how both ministries help people in the U.S. and overseas.
Sister Susan Pontz of the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius offered a lively session about ways to use technology to share the faith. She reminded the women that smartphones and social media can be their most effective tool to communicate with others, especially young people, and to promote their ministries and outreach.
“The question you need to ask yourself is how much technology is just enough?” she asked. “We have to make sure we still have depth in relationships, because depth roots us in the world, gives us substance and wholeness. Using too much technology can contribute to difficulties in prayer. It makes it hard to sit and quietly talk to God.”
On March 30, Catholic singer/songwriter Kitty Cleveland gave a dramatic talk about facing challenges through prayer. She encouraged the women to allow the example of Mary to guide them in their work.
“If you feel a distance from Mary, realize that she is longing to be your mother,” Cleveland said. “Every grace we’ve received has come to us through her. She invites us to be her children and to let her take us by the hand and lead us to Jesus. If we totally surrender to God as she did, we’ll be able to realize the support and providence He provides. We will be filled with joy. Whatever it is you’re worrying about, God trusts and knows what you need.”
Also at the convention, Marlene Grover, a member of St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach, was elected to a two-year term as SCCCW president.
The women raised $6,300 for their annual convention project, which will go toward building a chapel at the Camille Griffin Correctional Institute, a federal women’s prison in Columbia.
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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