DANIEL ISLAND—After much searching, St. Clare of Assisi Parish announced that its future church will be built on the diocesan property of Bishop England High School campus.
Father Gregory West, pastor, said they started looking at the BE campus after negotiations for another piece of property collapsed.
That parcel — 15 acres at the I-526 exit from Mount Pleasant to Daniel Island — ended up being out of range, with a final asking price of $3.8 million plus an additional $1 million to prepare the site for construction, Father West explained.
The search committee then started looking at property already owned by the diocese. Father West said they considered six acres of land directly across from Bishop England, but decided it was too small for a church and parking.
Stymied, parish leaders started “thinking outside the box” and concluded that the four acres situated between the school and the Battlin’ Bishops’ stadium would be ideal to suit the needs of the school and the parish, Father West said. Noting that the site is smaller, it already has plenty of parking and they will be able to use some of the school’s facilities, such as classrooms, he said.
Currently, this area holds the school’s track and associated fields, plus green space used for various practices and physical education, said Paul Runey, director of athletics. He explained that the track would be rebuilt inside the stadium.
School officials, along with some students and parents, have voiced concern over how the move will affect athletics at Bishop England. Runey said his primary worry is over the loss of the field and green space, and scrambling to find practice space for the football, soccer and rugby teams.
Father West acknowledged that concerns over how the school’s athletics program will be affected are understandable.
“It is vital that everyone remember that we have not yet begun the planning process,” he stated. “Concerns will be heard, addressed and relieved through planning together.”
Both Father West and Runey listed positives from having a parish church on the same property as the school.
Runey said future church plans could include a cafeteria and possibly a gym and parish life center that the school would have access to. Also, the church will save millions that would have been spent on land, freeing up funds that can go toward campus improvements, Father West said.
Most important, he said, the mission of Bishop England High School is its commitment to form young men and women to become disciples of Christ and “having a beautiful parish church adjacent to the school provides the appropriate space for the Catholic faith to be celebrated and lived.”
As of mid-July, St. Clare of Assisi parish had 656 registered households, totaling 1,470 members.
Father West said the next step is to form a planning team, hopefully by August, which will gather input from the community and create a vision for the future of St. Clare of Assisi and Bishop England.
Photos: Miscellany/Deirdre C. Mays