GEORGETOWN—A new era is on the horizon for the Catholic community in Georgetown.
Beginning July 1, St. Cyprian Church will be amalgamated with St. Mary Our Lady of Ransom Parish. The change was announced in a decree by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone in mid-March.
Bishop Guglielmone cited declining attendance at St. Cyprian, plus a need for more collaboration in ministry and the best use of available personnel and resources as some of the reasons for amalgamation.
“In an effort to ensure the vitality of parish life, with concern for the best stewardship of resources, and the right of the people of God to receive assistance from the Church, especially the Word of God, spiritual sustenance and the sacraments, it is now deemed necessary to begin a new chapter for St. Cyprian’s presence in Georgetown,” the decree states.
The decision came after long discussions with Father Richard Wilson, who is the current administrator, members of both parishes and the Presbyteral Council. The new territorial parish will be known as St. Mary Our Lady of Ransom.
The amalgamated parish will include members of both churches, and the assets of St. Cyprian will become part of St. Mary. Sacramental records from St. Cyprian will be transferred over to St. Mary as well.
Father Wilson will serve as the administrator of the amalgamated parish, a role he has filled at both churches since February 2017. He said the merger of the parishes will provide more space for worship, plus children’s religious education and other activities. It will also create a blended family with the growing Hispanic community attending St. Cyprian in recent years. He is working with members of both parishes to organize joint finance and pastoral councils.
Most people have been receptive to the idea of change, although he said some longtime members expressed sadness.
“It is a hard thing for some of them, because [they] have been attending the Sunday morning Mass there for years,” Father Wilson said. “I had one woman tell me that she has been going to Mass there since 1957.”
Mass on first Fridays and other liturgical events will continue at St. Cyprian until early July.
Father Wilson said the property at 1905 Front St. will eventually become the home of the St. Mary Our Lady of Ransom/St. Cyprian Outreach Center. It will house ongoing social ministries, including a clothing closet, a food pantry, and Friendship Place, which provides noon meals for the needy. Birthright and Catholic Charities also have offices on the property.
The St. Cyprian parish was founded in 1949 to serve the African American community. Mass was celebrated in a room above a store in the downtown area until 1951. At that time, the Myrtle Beach Air Base donated a large barracks, which was converted into the church, rectory and school. The school was staffed by the Franciscan Handmaids of the Pure Heart of Mary and primarily served non-Catholic African-American students. It closed in 1991.
Over the years, St. Cyprian became a truly multicultural parish and a center for social outreach, now operated by the Daughters of Charity. St. Cyprian Church currently serves about 120 households.
Top: This file photo from The Miscellany shows the outside of St. Cyprian in Georgetown.