CHARLESTON—Boxes are piled high on desks, tables and floor space as employees in the Charleston-area offices of the diocese prepare to move onto their new campus.
The move is scheduled for the week of Aug. 17 and will be followed by a grand opening celebration in September to mark the momentous occasion.
It is a move that has been long-anticipated, starting with the purchase of 26.5 acres of land, including almost 22 acres of marsh with a view of Charleston’s creeks and rivers, all nestled at the quiet end of Orange Grove Road.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the pastoral center was held in October 2013. The three planned buildings include The Chapel of the Holy Family, a three-story office building, and a high-tech conference center that will be used for meetings and retreats.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who took the helm of the diocese in 2009, often spoke of his desire to unite diocesan employees under one roof, where they can talk face-to-face and form closer working relationships. He said a centralized office will improve communication between departments and better serve the growing number of parishioners.
Diocesan staff have worked in numerous buildings spread throughout the area. As employees consolidate into the pastoral center, officials continue to weigh their options regarding the various real estate holdings, said Lydia Doyle, planning director.
The West Ashley offices, which are located on the same piece of property as the Carter-May Home on Ingram Road, will be used temporarily as a storage center, Doyle said. Because it is tied to Carter-May, there are a number of factors that must be considered before a decision can be made about the future use of West Chancery.
The main Chancery building in downtown Charleston will be leased to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist for office space. The Cathedral’s office building, located beside the church, is being leased for two years to Allegro Charter School of Music. The guest house behind the Chancery will be converted into apartments for diocesan use.
Bishop Guglielmone said the archives department will remain in its current building across the street from the Chancery because it already has a climate-controlled room for archive storage and the cost of building a new one is prohibitive.
The future of the Drexel House is also in flux, Doyle said. It is currently used as a residence for young men in the process of discernment and provided office space for the vocations department, which will now be in the pastoral center. Doyle said the department of youth and young adults may use Drexel for retreats and other functions, but that is still undecided.
For now, the main focus is getting everyone settled into the new pastoral center and planning for the grand opening week of celebratory events, including several Masses to honor everyone involved in the historic occasion.
Open house celebration events
The diocese will hold an open house at 901 Orange Grove Road for anyone wishing to tour the property Sept. 16-18 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.