GARDEN CITY — Bishop Robert J. Baker joined with the faithful from one of the Grand Strand’s fastest-growing churches on May 7 to formally dedicate a building named after a beloved priest.
The Duffy Center at St. Michael Church is a multi-purpose building that can seat up to 1,000 people. It is named for the late Msgr. Thomas Duffy, who served as pastor at St. Michael from 1997-2004. He died Sept. 25, 2004.
The dedication was attended by several members of Msgr. Duffy’s family.
Father Ray Carlo, pastor of St. Michael, said construction of the Duffy Center was completed in January 2005. Since then the building has become a nucleus of activity for the growing parish, which has a membership of more than 2,400 households and primarily serves Catholics on the south end of the Grand Strand. The bulk of its membership comes from Surfside Beach, Garden City, and Murrells Inlet. St. Michael School draws students from as far south as Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island.
The center houses a gymnasium, a stage and a large kitchen.
On Easter Sunday, church members and visitors attended Mass in the center. The 9 and 11 a.m. Masses attracted more than 900 worshippers.
Sister Roberta Thoen, principal of St. Michael School, said the Duffy Center has added many new and exciting elements to student life. One of them is the Middle School Christian League, a volleyball, soccer and basketball league that includes teams from St. Michael, St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach, Lowcountry Day School in Pawleys Island, the Pawleys Island Christian Academy, and the Christian Academy on S.C. Highway 544 near Surfside Beach.
“It offers our students the chance to be part of a league and also for us to do a little ecumenical outreach,” she said.
The Duffy Center is also the performance space for the school’s relatively new drama club. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from St. Michael performed a musical version of “The Secret Garden” in early May, and the primary grades are preparing to put on a spring concert there.
Sister Roberta said the center was the location for the parish’s Harvest Festival and for a special fund-raiser for the school which featured soups prepared by several area restaurants. The event drew more than 800 people.
The Duffy Center is also the headquarters for “The Edge,” a periodic gathering organized by the middle- and high-school youth at St. Michael. “The Edge” activities include “coffeehouse” style gatherings and live entertainment, and an upcoming talent show.