By JORDAN MCMORROUGH
St. Cyprian’s in Georgetown is a church where parishioners already share their time, talents and treasure to provide humanitarian services and Christian witness to their neighbors in an economically deprived area.
But assistance from the Diocesan Development Fund has been invaluable in providing the majority of the stipend for the three Daughters of Charity who came in 1992 to minister at St. Cyprian’s and give assistance to the largely non-Catholic community that surrounds the church.
Sister Kathleen Driscoll, the parish life facilitator, oversees an outreach center that collaborates with area agencies and churches to provide services to those who are challenged by poverty, substance abuse, and poor school achievement.
Recently, St. Cyprian’s has expanded to include a large number of Hispanic parishioners. Last Easter Sunday, the parish celebrated it’s first Spanish Mass, and the church now offers a Spanish Mass on the fourth Sunday of every month and a bilingual Mass on the second Sunday of the month.
Sister Carmen Evangelista from the religious community of Hermanos del Corazon de Jesus Sacramentado of Mexico will soon work out of an office at St. Cyprian’s to provide catechesis, pastoral ministry and sacramental preparation for Hispanics at the parish. To fund this new position, however, the parish has had to withdraw its $6,400 in savings and is now looking for grants to help pay for the balance of Sister Evangelista’s salary.
A thriving outreach ministry consisting of a clothes closet, food pantry, and assistance for rent, utilities and medications is supervised by Sister Deborah Mallott.
The clothes closet, which began in 1993, includes not only clothes but furniture and household items and is open on Wednesday mornings. Volunteers sort donated items, help clients locate items, conduct intake interviews, and distribute food baskets. Clients may come and receive a limited amount of clothing free of charge, with the amount varying according to the need of the individual or family. The closet is opened at other times if there is a specific need, such as fire or flood, or upon a referral from another agency.
In the last fiscal year, 579 people received clothing and furnishings, while 465 individuals received food donations or gift certificates for food provided by Catholic Charities. Food is also available on Wednesdays, or any time in case of immediate need.
In addition, DDF monies have helped to offer financial assistance for rent, utilities, and medications to clients usually referred by other helping agencies in the area. Most of the people the center provides assistance to work at nearby resorts as maids, groundskeepers or janitors. They make minimum wage, and because they are offered only part-time work, they have no benefits. Also, seasonal layoffs are common.
An afterschool program led by Sister Nancy Stewart is free and open to all elementary and middle school children, and 50 students are presently enrolled for tutoring. About 25 volunteers from area churches, mainly Garden City and Pawley’s Island, help the children with their homework. The youth are encouraged to maintain good attendance at school and in the homework program and to develop good work habits. A system of points and rewards reinforces this effort. When students have finished their homework they have access to books, games, and a computer learning center.
During the summer, 35 children participated in a variety of learning activities there.
At Thanksgiving the families of these children are first on the list to receive Thanksgiving baskets. Then, at Christmas the children are invited to a party and each one receives new clothing as a gift.
However, the sisters say it is through the contributions of volunteers, collaborators and benefactors that it is possible for St. Cyprian’s to be a beacon of hope in an area of extreme poverty.