CHARLESTON—The week of Sept. 13 was truly an historic occasion for the Diocese of Charleston as Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone brought all its members together to participate in the blessing of the new pastoral center.
Employees, religious brothers and sisters, priests, deacons and community members were included in the week-long grand opening celebration complete with tours of the three buildings.
Visitors perused the history of the diocese in the state-of-the-art conference center, attended Mass in the beautiful chapel, and meandered around the three-story office space.
The celebration kicked off with an employee appreciation luncheon where Lydia Doyle and Stephanie Posda from the Office of Real Estate were honored for their major contributions to the building project. The next day Bishop Guglielmone was joined by his brother priests from their respective parishes to bless the Chapel of the Holy Family – the heart of the new campus.
About 60 priests lined up outside on either side of the statue of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, which is engraved with the bishop’s motto: Walk humbly with your God. As they processed into the church — kept simple with all white walls and dark wood — rows of windows provided a view of God’s wondrous creation all around.
Before the church was incensed and blessed with holy water, the bishop welcomed the crowd and spoke of the motivation behind the pastoral center. He said that God so loved the world He sent His only Son so the world might be healed, and stressed how important it is for everyone to assist in the proclamation of this truth.
Priests do this from the pulpit, he said, but sometimes it takes more than an individual priest in an individual parish; sometimes there must be a place to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ as a group, the bishop continued, adding that when a community is united, they are made more effective in proclaiming the word.
His hope is that everyone will make use of the chapel, including neighbors around the new center, and find it a place of solace, prayer, inspiration and even courage.
To help promote community, the bishop is developing a schedule for the celebration of Mass once a week. The plan is to raise the bishop’s flag, which will fly below the papal flag, as a signal that Mass will be celebrated the next day.
Calling the church a visible sign of Christ, he said the chapel is the heart of the campus because worship and prayer must be at the center of all the work done in the diocese.
Before Mass could be celebrated, the altar was dedicated and consecrated. The bishop said they also placed first-degree relics of St. Hildegard of Bingen in the altar. He explained that all altars contain a relic of a saint as a symbol of the community of saints and the faith. Still to come in the chapel are the Stations of the Cross, which were original to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and are being restored after sitting in storage.
Although there is still work to be done, the bishop said he has already witnessed the sense of community he was striving for, and has had wonderful interactions that would not have been possible before, when employees were separated into seven different locations in Charleston alone.
After the chapel blessing, several other celebrations were held with members of the diocese, who were welcomed and enfolded into the pastoral community.
Unless otherwise noted, photos by Deirdre C. Mays/Miscellany