By TIM BULLARD
GEORGETOWN — September sunshine streamed through the stained glass of St. Cyprian’s Church on Sept. 27 as Bishop David B. Thompson visited the parish to celebrate Mass, recognize the fifth year of service for the Daughters of Charity Order here, and introduce the church’s new sacramental priest, Father Dennis B. Willey.
White and yellow mums decorated the sanctuary, which had been cleaned up with hard work by parish members following a struggle with a leaky roof. Wayne Johnson, director of music, and the strong voices of the choir provided music for the service, accompanied by a new organ.
Bishop Thompson thanked the sisters on the church staff: Sister Kathleen Driscoll, pastoral administrator; Sister Charlene Milazzo, pastoral associate; and Sister Anne Joseph Edelen, pastoral associate; for their unselfish work and love for the community.
“You are a great symbol of the Catholic church and the Catholic faith here in South Carolina,” Bishop Thompson told them. He talked about St.Vincent de Paul, who taught that to serve the poor is a true form of prayer. “By ignoring others, we become unjust,” the Bishop said. “We talk about justice, but justice is also made up of other virtues.”
Stewardship and the story of a beggar at a rich man’s gate was part of the Gospel message with Lazarus. Speaking about the Scripture reading, Bishop Thompson said, “The Gospel could be entitled ‘Rich Man, Poor Man.'”
Luxury versus squalor — the city of Georgetown knows the dichotomy very well, and the schism is not only geographic, but cultural and economic.
Bishop Thompson thanked Father Willey, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Georgetown, for accepting his request to serve as the sacramental priest. “Otherwise you would not have Mass here,” the Bishop said. St. Cyprian was founded in 1951, while St. Mary Parish was founded in 1899 with 270 households currently.
The church’s tight community association is what the sisters hold dear. The neighborhood has a drug problem, Sister Kathleen said, but it is the hugs of innocent children that make a smile ripple across her face.
The St. Cyprian Parish uses its outreach buildings for parenting classes of the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and the Institute for Families in Society from the University of South Carolina, truancy prevention with the Waccamaw Center for Mental Health, Waccamaw Baby Net with developmental screening, Emotions Anonymous, Girl Scouts, LIMEX, Citizens Against Spousal Abuse support group, Tara Hall School for Boys and Father to Father with Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
Assistance support included 557 requests of food, 585 for the clothes closet, 21 for medicine and one for lodging, with 31 referrals to other agencies. The “Cyp & Chat” hot meal program helps 305 guests with 48 volunteers and one paid community representative. FEMA families assisted with rent and mortgage help included $9,849 to 30 families from December to June and $4,500 to 20 families from July to November.
Educational efforts include 65 students and 25 volunteers in the after-school program and 35 students and 10 volunteers in the summer program that supports two paid teachers and one paid cafeteria manager.
Last Thanksgiving, meals for 203 individuals were served (85 adults, 117 children), with 4 food baskets and 10 gift certificates at $20 apiece given away. The Christmas season features an after-school program with 65 students and four families (five adults and 18 children).
According to the church’s mission statement, “The mission of St. Cyprian’s Church/Outreach Center is a Catholic presence in an economically deprived area of Georgetown. We strive to share with others our commitment to social ministry. We collaborate with area agencies and churches to provide human services to those who are challenged by poverty, substance abuse and poor school achievement.”