Celebration recognizes hundreds of years of service


CHARLESTON—To honor 35 educators who have each spent 25-plus years teaching in the diocese, a special Mass in their honor was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist May 13. Msgr. Joseph Roth, pastor of the cathedral and a diocesan vicar general who supervises Christian Formation, celebrated the liturgy.

In his homily, the former teaching brother said the vocation of a teacher has special effects on everyone.

“When children are in school, what is taught is stronger in their minds than what their parents say,” he proclaimed. “It is a beautiful vocation, close to the heart of God. You all are fulfilling that tremendous vocation, bringing God to them.”

The monsignor shared his belief that there is a special place in heaven for teachers, especially Catholic schoolteachers, as teaching in Catholic schools involves sacrifice.

“I want to thank the religious sisters who taught years and years in the Catholic school system. You are special models for young people. Vows brought you to where you were needed most. That is a special vocation,” said Msgr. Roth.

“God bless all of our teachers. The work that you have done will live forever.

“Young people need someone who cares enough to bring the faith,” said the monsignor. “Instill in them a love of God. Do what you need to do to get closer to your creator.”

The vicar general stressed that, whether they are an elementary or high school teacher, each have their own charism or gift.

“I thank each of you for what you do and the example you give to our children,” he said. “I thank God Catholic schools are bringing them home to the fullness of faith.

“Like the Holy Spirit, you come onto barren ground and make something happen,” he said. “Teach the Catholic faith by example and word. Work to try to make sure we have the best for our kids. You have been walking with the Lord as an apostle and an evangelist.”

Just prior to the conclusion of the Mass, the celebrant called all of the honorees forward and asked them to form a line in front of the altar. He prayed a blessing over the teachers and presented each of them with a small medal he brought back from his recent pilgrimage to the Vatican.

The group then processed over to The Mills House Hotel for a luncheon.

Superintendent of Schools Margaret Adams, Ph.D., asked Msgr. Roth to hand each of the educators a gift bag with a book, chocolates, and personalized picture desk clock.

Recognized were, from Charleston area schools, Kathleen Condon and Patricia McBurney from Blessed Sacrament; Shirley Graham from Charleston Catholic; Our Lady of Mercy Sister Stella Maris Craven and Virginia Stith from Christ Our King/Stella Maris; Carole Anne White from St. John’s; and Kathleen Blackman, Alice Bolchoz, Grace Curran, Jane Ellen Herron, Patricia Owens, Alma Runey, Paul Runey, Marcia Shealey, and Msgr. Robert Kelly from Bishop England High School.

Honorees from Columbia area schools included Ursuline Sister Anthony Wargel from St. John Neumann; Notre Dame Sister Christina Murphy and Ursuline Sisters Maria Lovett and Cecelia Hatem from St. Joseph; Sandra Leatherwood from St. Martin de Porres; Nora Prouse from St. Peter; and Ursuline Sister Julienne Guy and Carolyn McLendon from Cardinal Newman High School.

The Greenville/Spartanburg area was represented by Our Lady of Mercy Sister Veronica Janas and Rose McKenna from St. Mary’s; Carolyn Lenhardt from St. Anthony of Padua; and Ann Marie Sullivan from St. Paul the Apostle.

Other honorees included Phyllis Brandis and Gwynette Caldwell from St. Anthony’s in Florence; Jean Cook and Antoine Cardahi from St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken; and Jan Kroger, Georgia Palmore , and Kathleen Morton from Our Lady of Peace School in North Augusta.

Our Lady of Mercy Sister Rosemary Boyd, a retired educator, was also honored at the luncheon.

Garnering the most applause among the attendees were Sister Wargel, who was observing 68 years in education and 70 years in religious life, and Msgr. Kelly, who was recognized for 45 years in education and 49 years in the priesthood.