MCCORMICK—Members of Good Shepherd in McCormick started the new year with an important change: Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone officially declared the former mission a church in a decree released Dec. 20.
“It is encouraging to see the growth of the Catholic Church of the Diocese of Charleston,” the bishop stated in the decree. “Such growth can only be achieved by the Grace of the Holy Spirit and the good will of the parishioners.”
Good Shepherd, formerly a mission of Sacred Heart Church in Abbeville, serves about 160 households.
The new parish encompasses McCormick County in the northwestern part of the state. Sacred Heart Church will include nearby Abbeville County.
Father Allam Marreddy is administrator of both churches, and said the new status of Good Shepherd is a testament to the members’ dedication.
“I’m so happy the bishop has declared us a parish,” Father Marreddy said. “I feel fulfillment of my ministry in the priesthood here, and am just so happy to be here. The people here are so enthusiastic and supportive.”
Good Shepherd Mission was founded in 1964 by Bishop Francis F. Reh. For more than 40 years, members worshipped in a building that formerly was Our Lady of Lourdes in Greenwood and was moved 30 miles along country roads to McCormick.
Bishop Guglielmone dedicated a new church building, funded largely by parishioners, in 2010. Volunteers painted, laid the carpeting and flooring, and one member even built the altar.
“I think everybody in the parish is gratified because the designation signifies a recognition by the bishop of our growth over the past eight or 10 years,” said David Lorenzatti, a former chairman of the parish capital campaign for several years.
Most members of Good Shepherd are older adults, many of them retirees who live in the nearby Savannah Lakes community.
The old church building was converted into a rectory for Father Marreddy and was completed in September. Church members also did much of the work on that project.
In recent years, Good Shepherd has added a parish life center, a columbarium and a rosary and prayer garden.
“People are exceptionally generous in support of this parish and various activities it sponsors,” Lorenzatti said. “The recent growth was primarily done with contributions from our parishioners because they really feel heavily connected to their church.”
Terry O’Reilly, chairman of the building and facilities committee, said Good Shepherd grew into a vibrant community largely because most of the members are transplants. Parish activities include men’s and women’s clubs, a prison ministry and prayer shawl ministry, and community outreach.
“Everybody had to get to know each other, and over the years this church has become a strong Catholic community and a very central part of members’ social lives,” he said.