By KELLY CARR
MOUNT PLEASANT – From April 1998 to January 1999, six Christ Our King parishioners attended the first segment of classes offered by the Institute for Parish Leadership Development. Representatives included Robert Michael Condon, Wilson Gautreaux, Sandra Rawls-Robinson, Edward M. Robinson, Lolita Reilly and Sharon Willi. The president of the parish council, Dr. John Maize; the adult religious education director, Mark Dickson; and Jim Posada also participated in the preparation of a final project for this segment of the Institute. At the request of Msgr. James Carter, pastor, the team took up the task of examining the population growth issues that loom large in the future, east of the Cooper. The result was a comprehensive study entitled, “An Assessment of the Need for New Catholic Parishes in the East Cooper Area and Daniel Island.”
The team was thorough in it’s research and analysis. Some of the highlights of the study are as follows: Currently, 39,500 people call Mount Pleasant home, of which 5,700 are registered Catholics (Diocese of Charleston records). By the year 2015, the number will be close to 72,500, with a projected 10,400 Catholics. Based on projected growth, the greatest number of new homes east of the Cooper in the next decade will occur off of Highway 17 (north of Snee Farm) and Highway 41. A total of 13,000 homes would reside within the proposed boundaries of the proposed new parish. Daniel Island is also growing, but the total number of homes planned is less (7,000). Given that fact, the committee recommended that the focus of any planning but for a parish off of Highway 17 North first, and subsequently, a parish on Daniel Island. The study examined distances from the growing new neighborhoods to Christ Our King and to the Kiwi Farm area (beyond Charleston National, a hypothetical location for a new parish) respectively.
Msgr. Carter used the results of this study during a homily last winter. His primary focus was on vocations, and the crisis we face in the Diocese of Charleston. He wanted to help us, as a parish, face the very real prospect of not having a resident pastor sometime in the next decade. It is quite possible that our parish and Stella Maris would be satellites to a “mega-church,” with Sunday Mass offered only every other weekend at Christ Our King.
Our lay leadership team helped bring a sharp focus to the realities we face. The numbers don’t lie the Catholic presence east of the Cooper continues to increase, but the number of vocations isn’t keeping pace with the need. The study helped highlight the crisis, but it also brought to life some of the fruit of the Synod of Charleston.
The above article appeared in the June/July edition of the Christ Our King newsletter.