By JORDAN MCMORROUGH
CHARLESTON A Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated at St. Mary Church on Jan. 30 to mark 15 years in the Holy City by the Daughters of St. Paul, a religious order which promotes media literacy in view of the integration of Gospel values in the world of communications.
Bishop Robert J. Baker, in his opening remarks, thanked the Daughters of St. Paul for their ministry here in the diocese in addition to their efforts of evangelization.
“As we honor you, we pray for more religious sisters to join you. We cannot exist without the witness of consecrated men and women. You sisters are proof that hope is with us, concrete evidence of God’s presence with us,” said Bishop Baker.
He added, “It is our blessing that the Lord called you here. You help build up the Lord’s Kingdom here by your witness. I thank you for that great witness.”
Prior to the conclusion of the eucharistic liturgy, Sister Germana Santos, provincial superior of the Daughters of St. Paul, gave post Communion remarks to the congregation.
“Fifteen years ago I was living in Boston, and when Mother Paula (Cordero) was making all the arrangements necessary to open our convent here in Charleston, she would return to Boston and tell us about this city and its people,” Sister Santos said. “It sounded so inviting, even though at that time I felt that going to Charleston, South Carolina, was like being missioned to the ends of the earth.”
She continued, “In these 15 years the sisters who have been stationed here have all fallen in love with city and this state. There’s a spell and a charm that captures us all.”
Today, as part of its mission in communications, the Daughters of St. Paul of North America operate a publishing house in Boston called Pauline Books and Media. Besides the book division, this publishing house also encompasses a video, music, and electronic publishing division; maintains a Web site at www.Pauline.org; and runs 20 bookcenters across the country. In addition to this they distribute Catholic media through book fairs and outreach at parishes.
“They combine a professional approach to communications in which they bring Christ into the marketplace, with a consecrated life profoundly rooted on prayer,” said Sister Santos.
Sister Rose William Pacatte, who worked at the King Street bookstore from 1984 to 1987, then greeted the attendees and gave them an update concerning her duties with the order over the past decade, which has included assignments in New York, London, Guam and Boston. She also gave what she called a “stroll down memory lane” recalling how in September 1984 she and Sister Theresa Frances arrived in Charleston “with our big white bookmobile.”
Sister Pacatte cited the assistance of then Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler, Vicar General Msgr. Charles Rowland, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, Msgr. Thomas Duffy, then pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church, and the Franciscan Sisters for their help in establishing a Catholic media presence in the Lowcountry.
“Sonny Meevers, besides doing so many things for us, asked his cousin, John McAlister, at the funeral home to be our mailing address for packages and supplies coming from Boston, all while we were waiting for our book center and convent to be built,” Sister Pacatte said.
While their building, the old Siegling music house, was being renovated, the two women religious traveled throughout the diocese. Said Sister Pacatte, “Father (Daniel) McCaffrey (then director of the diocesan Office of Evangelization) would preach at the Masses about the good news of God’s love and people could avail themselves of Catholic books, some music and religious articles to inspire their lives.”
The sister the discussed “The Ten Things I Learned in Charleston,” recounting some humorous stories as well as other memories about the Daughters of St. Paul and their ministry in the Palmetto State.
The first five items were comical, however, her final observations were of people and actions that touched her deeply.
Sister Pacatte said she “learned that the clergy, religious and people of the Diocese of Charleston are dedicated to promoting human life in all its stages.”
In addition, Sister Pacatte “experienced firsthand the significance of evangelization and the necessity of dialogue and respect in a diocese so diverse in race, culture and religion. The first sisters and I, when we would go door to door with our books in parishes or business areas, would marvel that people of all religions were happy to see them and interested in what we were doing.
“When we mentioned this to Bishop Unterkoefler,” she explained, “he said, certainly, because the people here have spiritual values and they recognize God’s presence in those they meet.”
She continued, “I learned that the Diocese of Charleston and the Holy City in particular, is a community willing to help and befriend.”
Sister Pacatte added that the Daughters of St. Paul “would never have been able to move into their building if the Key Club of Bishop England High School, led by William Duerst, hadn’t helped them, and the Knights of Columbus of North Charleston helped them with projects and work.”
She thanked the supporters of the Daughters of St. Paul ministry with helping her to learn with certainty that she had a vocation to religious life.
“In Charleston, in addition to lots of work, I found great peace because of the understanding and support of the people of the local church and community. You all help me say yes to God every day, even today. For all I learned in Charleston, I am grateful,” Sister Pacatte concluded.
A reception followed the Mass at Pauline Books and Media at 243 King St. On display were photo albums documenting the renovation of the building.