Thursday, April 17, 2014
In a modest two-room office tucked away in a Daniel Island shopping plaza lie the makings of something tremendous.
No ornate decorations or grandeur, just the buzz and bang of construction work in harmony with the ring of the phone echoing through the office. While it may be hard to tell, years of prayer and hopes are just days from coming to life. A longtime dream of a Catholic parish on Daniel Island will finally become a reality on Easter Sunday as St. Clare of Assisi celebrates its first official mass and is canonically established as the parish of Daniel Island.
At the forefront of the debut is the Rev. Gregory West. Born and raised in the Charleston area, West spent the last 20 years spreading his ministry around the state before returning home a month ago to deliver a Catholic parish to Daniel Island. With no physical church, West has set up in the office space and Bishop England High School to lay the groundwork for the parish. St. Clare of Assisi will be the third Catholic parish West has established in South Carolina since 1995. “Right now, we're building the infrastructure,” West said. “We're organizing the skeleton of what it means to run a church.”
West says the Catholic Diocese of Charleston has been interested in creating a parish on Daniel Island since Bishop England relocated there in 1998. Bishop of Charleston Robert Guglielmone has been eager to begin the past couple of years, but the Diocese had to wait until it could secure priest personnel and until Daniel Island had the population to justify the parish.
“We've gotten to the point where we can devote a lot of our energy, particularly priest personnel, to what's happening here,” West said. “There are great growth plans here. It's really picking up steam. Now is the perfect time to get going.” For the past four weeks, West and St. Clare have used Bishop England's performing arts center to hold Mass. More than 600 people filled the 520-seat auditorium for the first Mass. With an even larger crowd expected Sunday, Mass will be held in the Bishop England gymnasium. Daniel Island residents currently filter out to more than 10 different Catholic parishes throughout the Charleston area. West says building a church on Daniel Island is a priority but admits it's realistically still years from happening. Until then, St. Clare will continue to utilize Bishop England to worship. “Bishop England has been incredibly gracious and generous in hosting us,” West said. “We're all in the same Catholic family.
The name St. Clare of Assisi was one of 30 nominated by the congregation. Bishop Guglielmone narrowed the list down to 16 for the congregation to vote on one. West says aligning the parish's first Mass with Easter Sunday will have a “tremendously positive” effect. He admits there have already been challenges and knows that more lie ahead. But through prayer and faith, he's sure the timing is right for what lies ahead.
Frankie Mansfield, the sports reporter for the Moultrie News can be seen all around the state following teams to meets, games, and matches. For score updates, breaking sports news, and more follow @fjmansfield on Twitter and like Moultrie News Sports on Facebook.