New education center at St. Mary Magdalene accommodates growth

SIMPSONVILLE – The portable classrooms are gone and the off-campus religious education classes have ended.

Last month, Bishop Robert J. Baker dedicated St. Mary Magdalene’s sparkling new education center that will be home to religious education and more for many years to come at the growing parish in Simpsonville.

The two-story red brick building is called the Conner Ministry Building after the church’s pastor, Father Herbert Conner.

Celebrating Mass in a church that is also in the middle of a major expansion, the bishop praised parishioners for their dedication to Father Conner and the church.

“The end result is not a new building, but the faith of the people,” Bishop Baker said. “I can see that that’s very evident here.”

The new facility includes 15 classrooms, a large nursery, an office, four quad rooms that can be converted into a large hall, and the parish library.

Cindy Roth, director of religious education at St. Mary Magdalene, said that for the past six years the parish has had to bring in several portable classrooms to accommodate its growing religious program.

Construction of the new building and the church expansion led to the removal of those portables and some creative scheduling to keep the program running.

Roth said that a nearby Methodist church loaned them some space during the last half of the last school year and the first half of this year for the sixth and seventh grade classes.

“Our younger children were on an alternating schedule, coming every other week except for the sacramental grades, which met every week,” she said.

“After the first of the year, everyone will be back on a regular schedule,” Roth said.

That schedule will include the return of the parish’s Sunday morning programs for younger children that had to be suspended because there wasn’t enough space.

For the past six years, the parish has had to use the portable classrooms to accommodate those programs. But they were removed last March to make room for the new facility.

“We’ve grown,” said Roth.

Nearly 600 children have registered for religious education in the parish this year, and the excited director of religious education expects more now that the new building is open.

“Parents of the smaller children have been waiting until we could get started with that program again,” Roth said.

Pam Maggio, who is the mother of a two-year-old and a four-year-old, said she’s looking forward to returning to a more normal Sunday schedule.

“It will be good, as a parent, to have Sunday morning religious education classes again. My children have really missed out on that opportunity.”

Maggio said she’s impressed with the new facility.

“It’s fantastic to have a nursery of a good size,” she said. “This really helps with the overcrowding problem we’ve had.”