St. Joseph Residence groundbreaking to be held Feb. 24 in Charleston

CHARLESTON — The first phase of the St. Joseph Residence at the Carter-May Home will officially begin Feb. 24 when Bishop Robert J. Baker blesses the ground in a private ceremony.

The first phase of the project involves the complete renovation of the Carter-May Home and the addition of the St. Joseph Residence for retired clergy.

The separate St. Joseph Residence wing will house six specially designed assisted-living suites for priests and six separate private rooms for laity with the potential to add new independent or assisted-living facilities in the future. An enclosed walkway will connect the area with the existing Carter-May Home.

“We hope to have construction drawings complete and the project out to bid by April 17 with phase one completed by November of 2003,” said Dorothy Grillo, director of the Office of Social Ministries.

The second phase of the project is still being planned, she said.

A special advisory committee will be formed to help guide the project and ensure that the needs of retired priests and laity are met in the most comprehensive, efficient and respectful ways possible, Grillo said.

The committee will assist with decision making on the final construction plan, layout and decor of the new facility, renovations of the existing Carter-May Home, fund raising, and planning for any additional services. An endowment will also be established to ensure that the future needs on behalf of retired clergy will be met.

In addition to the residential care provided at the St. Joseph Residence, a comprehensive care management program will be developed for retired priests who wish to remain in other parts of the diocese, Grillo said.

“Our future goal is to provide housing for retired priests in the Piedmont area of the diocese and to pursue our efforts to locate an extended living and nursing care facility on diocesan property in the Columbia area as well,” Grillo said.

Mike Gocsik, secretary of the Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement, said that the project is estimated to cost up to $2.5 million. Private donors have already given $1.7 million.

“We are confident we will meet our goals,” Gocsik said. “St. Joseph Residence has been a concern in the diocese for a long time. It is encouraging that the diocese is finally in a position to make this dream a reality.

“Many of our priests are on their own when they retire,” Gocsik said.

“It has been a long-standing dream for our retired priests to live in community and, even in their retirement, to minister. This is a place where they won’t be isolated and can be visited by their fellow priests and the bishop.”