By JORDAN MCMORROUGH
FORT MILL — The St. Philip Neri Parish was dedicated by Bishop David B. Thompson on Sept. 27, culminating a six-year journey that began in 1992 with a feasibility study for establishing a church in the Fort Mill area.
Oratorian Father John Giuliani, pastor, extended special thanks to Bishop Thompson for founding the parish, Oratorian Father Joseph Wahl and the Rock Hill Oratory for staffing the parish, Father Chet Moczydlowski for being the parish’s liaison with the diocesan Building Committee, All Saints Mission of Lake Wylie for providing seed money, and to the past and present members of the parish Building Committee. His appreciation was also expressed to Louis Kuchinic Jr. for his role in overseeing the actual construction project.
At the dedication ceremony, the setting of the altar was done by Mike, Jennifer, Joseph and Harrison Cahil. Mike
Cahil built and carved intricate artwork upon the altar, ambo, wedding kneelers, and the stand for the holy water reservoir.
Stations of the Cross which decorate the walls of the new building were donated by the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy from their convent at Divine Savior in York. The tabernacle, censer, and daily Mass altar were also given by the OLM Sisters.
Outside the new church building, a prayer garden from the Circle One women’s group provides an outdoor spiritual retreat for the Fort Mill parishioners, who have seen an ever-increasing number of new parishioners over the past decade.
Early in 1993, a mission known as the Fort Mill/Tega Cay Catholic Community began with 70 families, with Masses held at Lake Wylie Lutheran Church and later Philadelphia United Methodist Church.
Bishop Thompson celebrated Mass in the community in 1994, accepted the parish mission statement, and named the mission after St. Philip Neri, who founded the Roman Oratory.
The following year, eight acres of land on Munn Road in Fort Mill were purchased as the site of a future church, and a second Mass, held at the Tega Cay Clubhouse, was added to accommodate growth. By late 1995, the land debt was paid in full, and a “mortgage burning” was held on the Epiphany.
By 1996, a capital fund-raising campaign was undertaken, to involve pledges made over a three year period. The effort proved successful, and on Labor Day 1997, ground was broken for the new structure.
St. Philip Neri owns 8.2 acres of land. Eventual plans call for a new building at the site, said Father Giuliani. With the opening of the just dedicated building, the parish, which draws attendees from Tega Cay, Charlotte, Fort Mill, and Rock Hill, has already added another Sunday Mass.