DANIEL ISLAND—St. Clare of Assisi Church has seen remarkable growth since its beginnings two and a half years ago.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone established the new parish in early 2014 and the first Mass took place that year on Easter Sunday. Since then, membership has surged to 1,900, due in large part to people moving into the booming Daniel Island area.
Father Gregory West, pastor, said $5.9 million in cash and pledges has already been raised for a $10 million fundraising effort to build a church on a site at the corner of Seven Farms Drive and Etiwan Park Drive.
Members of St. Clare of Assisi currently meet in Bishop England High School.
Members of the building committee have started to interview architects for the project and will decide on one in early 2017. They envision a traditional style church that will seat between 800-1,200 people and include one or two tall spires that will make the church a “visible landmark” on Daniel Island. They hope to break ground in late 2019.
Surging growth in the Charleston area is a big part of St. Clare of Assisi’s rapid expansion, Father West said, citing statistics that estimate 50 people move to Charleston each day. Expansion by Boeing and future planned plants for Mercedes and Volvo will bring even more to the area.
“It seems that the world is moving to Charleston, and Daniel Island is where many newcomers wish to live,” Father West said. “Establishing a parish here has been a vital need to further strengthen the local community.”
Dave Iauco of Daniel Island has been at St. Clare of Assisi since the beginning. He was one of the founding members of the Good Shepherd Club, a group who began meeting back in 2012 to take part in Bible studies and other spiritual activities together.
“There was a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about that club, and always a dream that it would lead to a new church,” Iauco said.
Membership in the Good Shepherd Club quickly grew to 400 and beyond, and they were thrilled to see their dreams become a reality when the parish was established.
Since that day, Iauco said watching the evolution of the parish has been amazing. He described the excitement of seeing different generations represented in the congregation, young singles sitting next to young families with children who are next to retirees.
“People who come to our parish as a visitor immediately pick up on the enthusiasm and many have joined because of that feeling, and because of the ministries we have,” he said. “We’re excited about the future and we are going to build a beautiful church dedicated to God’s glory.”