BY BROOKSI HUDSON
DANIEL ISLAND — Catholics from the tri-county area met at Bishop England High School Sept. 1 to show their appreciation of Lowcountry clergy at the second annual Priest Appreciation reception. Twenty-five active and retired priests attended and were presented with a ceramic dish and handmade rosaries.
Rob Fowler, chief meteorologist for News 2 the local CBS affiliate, was the keynote speaker for the evening. Crimson Thorns, which consists of St. Philip Benizi parishioners Chris Brennan and Al Marsch, and the Bishop England choir provided musical entertainment.
In his speech, Fowler, a Catholic, told the priests he was honored to be there. He thanked them for their hard work in the diocese and spoke of his reliance on the Church during a recent bout with cancer. He also thanked Bishop Robert J. Baker for a letter of encouragement the prelate wrote during his illness.
Peggy Bachofner, a member of St. Mary of the Annunciation in Charleston, came up with the idea for the reception. The event was funded through parishioner contributions.
“I think that it is vital for our Catholic community to have this union,” said Bachofner. “We live in a world that is so very busy today. It is easy to let our spiritual life slide. It is so important for parishioners to show appreciation for their priests.”
Pam Niesslein, one of the event planners, said she enjoyed working on the event so much last year that she signed up again.
“This is one of those things that I really believe in,” she said. “We are so blessed by the priests in our diocese, and it is important that we tell them. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful pastor in Father (Bernardino) Yebra. He is truly a godsend to our parish.”
Niesslein said that the controversies in the church in recent years have made this time for appreciation of utmost importance.
“We are so blessed by the priests that we have,” she said. “We want to continually remind them of how much we are thankful for them.”
Bachofner said that she appreciates the love that her pastor, Msgr. Joseph Roth shows for the Lord and for the parishioners.
“I admire the dedication he shows for living and teaching the way Jesus has taught us to live,” she said. “He helps to show us how to get the fullness out of life and how to find peace in our Lord.”
Bishop Baker said that he was grateful to the committee for organizing the event and honoring his fellow priests. Niesslein said that her ultimate goal for the event was to make the priests feel just that — appreciated.
“I know that they had a good time, and I know that I did,” she said. “My only concern was the low attendance. I always believe that the people that are meant to be there will be there. I just wish in the future that more people would come.”
Other priests who were present to be appreciated included: Fathers James Parker, Thomas Reddimasu, Edward Fitzgerald, Robert Higgins, Joseph F. Hanley, John Zimmerman, Peter Kulandai, Theodore Cilwick, Edward Mullen; Msgr. John Simonin; Adorno Fathers Edgardo Enverga and Frank Palmieri.
To participate in next year’s event
Call Peggy Bachofner at St. Mary of the Annunciation in Charleston at (843) 722-7696.