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 | By Joey Reistroffer

Planting & Growing a Catholic South Carolina

Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune, CS, is planting a garden. He started in February, and he plans to work it, tend it, nourish it and love it until it flourishes.

Bishop Fabre calls this garden the Catholic Appeal of South Carolina, and he needs all parishioners pitching in to ensure that it thrives. 

He calls those who donate to the appeal “bees.” They are the ones who work tirelessly to pollinate each plant, or ministry, to ensure that it blooms.

It’s a beautiful dream. It has the potential to produce marvelous fruit.

But it starts at ground level. The soil must be tilled and fertilized with donations. The richer the soil, the grander the harvest. Then each ministry can call on this bountiful harvest and serve those who need it most.  

Carrie Mummert, director of the Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement, emphasizes that this call for funding is not for the bishop. It is for the diocese.

“This is not my appeal,” Mummert said the bishop told her.

“We are not going to raise money and stick it in the bank. We are going to raise money and send it to the ministries,” Mummert said. “He wants us to have programs for the parishes,” Mummert said of the bishop’s vision. He’s even renamed the Crozier Society to “His Garden Society,” furthering the theme.

“The symbolism of the bee is something that people can relate to,” Mummert said.

Bees work together for the common good of the hive. In South Carolina, parishioners have an opportunity to work together for the common good of the diocese.

Mummert wants to surpass 2018 — the best year — when 17,862 households, or 26 percent of the diocese, pledged $4.8 million.

“Our goal is to raise $5 million. We should be able to accomplish it,” she said.

One reason for the optimism is that the diocese now has 82,000 registered households.

“We want to build on 2018,” Mummert said. “The goal is at least 50 percent of all Catholics could give something.”

Imagine 50 percent, or 41,000 households, pledging to make the diocese a better place for everybody — even better.

“We want every person to give something, whether one dollar or five. That is making an impact,” she said.

Imagine that. Then imagine $5 million going directly into the ministries that need it most: outreach for those experiencing poverty, Catholic schools, campus ministries, vocations, priest retirement, a maternity home for women in crisis and so much more. One outreach close to the bishop's heart is for people with mental illnesses.

“We haven’t done a lot in this area,” she said. Bishop Fabre “wants us to get a program in place,” and that program could consist of resources and training.

“Suicide rates have gone up,” she added. “It’s significant. We need local support groups that can help.”

Every ministry makes a difference in somebody’s life: just look at when young Jacques Fabre-Jeune was growing up in Haiti. He could have run with gangs, but he didn’t. He stayed close to the Church.

Mummert said the Church led him, and “now he gives us an example of how truly to lead our lives. People are just blown away with his vision, his love of the Lord and his sharing it.”

Jesus demands that we do just that in Matthew 28:19-20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Perhaps that is why Bishop Fabre is planting this garden and calling worker bees from across the diocese to buzz in and pollinate the future harvest with funding for all its ministries. The Catholic future of South Carolina depends on how parishioners nurture the Church today.

With everybody pitching in, the garden that the bishop is dreaming about can be grand indeed.

Joseph Reistroffer is a long-time writer who teaches religious education classes at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg. Email him at