Seminarians get first-hand view of ministries


JAMES ISLAND — Bishop David B. Thompson addressed seminarians of the Diocese of Charleston at a special liturgy celebrated at the Church of the Nativity July 15.

He told the young men to appreciate the power of knowledge, but not be proud or boastful of it. “Knowledge in and of itself is not the important thing,” the Bishop stressed.

“There is no room for selfish pride” in a thinking, listening Church, adding that the true test comes when asking: “Is this what the Gospels mean?”

“The grace from a teaching Church makes us smart and secure,” said Bishop Thompson. “The Church lives today, and it is our Church.”

The leader of the Diocese of Charleston also discussed three female Doctors of the Church: St. Therese of the Little Flower, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila.

“Women are teachers in our church. Women are doctors in our church. Listen to them and respect them,” the Bishop emphasized.

He further illustrated the importance of this issue by highlighting the Synod document on Women in the Church.

In closing, Bishop Thompson spoke about the necessity of keeping a holy hour.

Following the Mass, a luncheon was held for the seminarians at the Nativity rectory.

Father Rick LaBrecque, pastor of St. James Church in Conway and Church of the Resurrection Mission in Loris, presented a talk on the twin themes of rural ministry and ministry to Hispanics.

Mass in Spanish is currently celebrated in 30 locations across the Diocese of Charleston either weekly or frequently, he said, adding that the number could easily be 50, 60 or 80 locales.

“Catholics are a minority in South Carolina, and in rural areas, even more so,” said Father LaBrecque.

Ministry to youth and children is especially challenging in a rural setting, due to financial burdens, ability to schedule activities, and opening doors to serve whole new populations, the priest said.

In his weekend Masses in Conway, Father LaBrecque said that the numbers show about 60 people attending the English Mass, with an estimated 160 at the Mass in Spanish.

To make congregations more welcoming, the pastor said interest must be shown in both Anglo and Hispanic groups, with a goal to make everybody welcome.

“We are the Catholic Church. We are everybody’s Church. There are no outsiders. Everyone has a right to be there,” Father LaBrecque said.

“It is the role of the Church to respect and enjoy the richness of all cultures, as we try to go together into the next millennium,” he said.

In his remarks following the presentation, Bishop Thompson said that a recent State newspaper series on Hispanics in South Carolina gave an estimate of more than 150,000 Spanish speaking persons in the diocese.

To accommodate this influx, a new policy has been put in place for seminarians to learn Spanish.

In addition, a workshop on Hispanic ministry has been scheduled for September in Columbia, with the Bishop urging all priests in the diocese to attend.

Also, Bishop Thompson said that he would recommend to the Holy See that his successor could well “Be an Anglo who speaks perfect Spanish, or a Hispanic who speaks perfect English.”