CAMDEN — Family, friends and current and former parishioners gathered at Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Dec. 6 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Father Francis J. Travis’ ordination to the priesthood.
Since his ordination in 1981, Father Travis has served at parishes all over South Carolina. He has served as pastor in Camden since 2004.
The Silver Anniversary Mass took place at the church on Lyttleton Street in Camden, and drew people from as far away as Charleston and the Upstate.
The Mass was celebrated by Father Travis and concelebrated by Fathers Charles Day, and D. Anthony Droze.
Members of the three parish vocal ensembles provided music: the Choir of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Joyful Praise, and Schola Antiqua, a group that performs traditional Gregorian chants and other traditional sacred music.
A special homily was offered by Father Droze, pastor of Our Lady of the Hills in Columbia and a longtime friend of the man parishioners and friends like to refer to as “Father Frank.”
Father Droze remembered a visit he made to Charleston while still considering whether or not to pursue a vocation as a priest.
He met Father Travis there, who was on a visit home from his own seminary training. He said advice Father Travis gave him on how to conduct himself and how to treat others while in seminary helped him make the decision to pursue his training.
“Perhaps we all have a story about when we experienced his welcome for the first time, or how he enriched us with his gift of self,” Father Droze said.
The parishes Father Travis has served include St. Joseph in Anderson, Precious Blood of Christ in Pawleys Island, St. Luke in Powdersville, Holy Cross in Pickens, and St. Joseph in Columbia, among others.
“We as priests rely so heavily on our brother priests, and Father Travis has always gone to great lengths to stay connected to his brother priests,” Father Droze said. “I’ve always appreciated his humor, and his ability to give advice that’s respectful. We gather this night to be grateful for 25 years of priestly ministry, for this priest who for us has been a brother. For all of us, we’re proud to call him Father.”
After the Mass, a reception was held at the nearby Health Resource Center in Camden. Guests enjoyed live music and an elaborate buffet, gave toasts to Father Travis and presented him with gifts.
“It’s been wonderful to see everybody here who has helped me through my different vocations here in the diocese,” Father Travis said.
Both fellow priests and lay people talked about Father Travis’ pastoral skills, as well as his sense of humor and willingness to reach out to just about anyone who needed to speak to him about spiritual matters.
“Father Travis is absolutely wonderful — he’s a wonderful pastor and all around a good priest,” said Margaret Joseph, a 48-year member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Her sentiments were echoed by relative Rosemary Joseph, who has belonged to the parish for 50 years and has memories of most of the priests who have served the parish.
“He’s easygoing and at the same time such a holy man,” she said.
“He’s the kind of priest that always made you feel like you could go to him and talk to him, because he really listened,” said Pat Fayer, a member of Holy Cross Church, Pickens.