Diocesan volunteers are officially commissioned

by Deirdre C. Mays

CHARLESTON — The first commitment and commissioning ceremony for the Diocese of Charleston Volunteers was held Nov. 25 at the St. Katharine Drexel House, 34 Wentworth St.

The program is in its second year. The ceremony officially blessed the ministry, and formalized the sending forth of the volunteers on their missions. Stephen and Sandra Cush of Greenville, Jennifer Mindek from Connecticut and Cody Groeber from Anderson received a pin of the volunteer logo, a lighthouse and a blessing from the bishop.

The volunteer logo depicts the Eucharist above a chalice. Msgr. Anthony A. La Femina, who directs the program with Father Stan Smolenski, designed it.

“The Eucharist makes present the sacrifice of Calvary signified by the red, and it makes Calvary present in a sacramental manner mystically,” he explained.

The lighthouse signifies that the volunteers, like all the people of God, are the house that supports the light of Christ and the lens that reflects that light.

“Everything we do in life comes from a particular perspective and the perspective of a volunteer is one of evangelization, particularly Eucharistic evangelization,” Bishop Baker said. “The Diocese of Charleston Volunteers are focusing on spreading the Gospel by translating the good that we do and spreading the news of Jesus Christ as we do that.”

Volunteers determine their own ministry within the program. They receive formation and training at the Drexel house with Msgr. La Femina and Father Smolenski.

The Cushes are members of St. Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville. As Third Order Carmelites they already prayed for priestly vocations and visited retired priests in their area. When the couple decided to take an early retirement, they called the diocese to offer their services in some capacity as volunteers.

“We felt called to do this,” Mrs. Cush said.

They will go home and start an Angel Drivers program in the Upstate where they will travel throughout their community continuing to visit priests and driving them around.

“We feel very blessed to meet these priests and get to know them,” she said.

Cody Groeber, 22, graduated from Furman University last summer. An active young Catholic, he was Newman Club president and heard about the Volunteer program when the bishop confirmed his sister.

He hopes the year he is giving will help him determine his future.

“It’s a year for discernment to figure out where God wants me, whether it’s teaching, law, or the priesthood,” he said. “While making these decisions I thought I would give a year of service and not just be.”

Groeber is assisting with campus ministry at Bishop England High School, The Citadel and the College of Charleston.

“I pray, read and work,” he said. “I like it a lot. It’s been challenging at times, but certainly rewarding. The challenge has been in making the transition from school where it’s hectic and you have to plan time for prayer and spiritual reading. Now I have time do that.”