Welcome additions at Good Shepherd in McCormick

McCORMICK — An important new part of parish life at Good Shepherd Church was officially blessed on May 31. A Family Life Center has been added to the church’s property off U.S. 221 in the small community of McCormick.

Members of the church, a mission of Sacred Heart Church in Abbeville, gathered for the blessing led by Father Allam Marreddy, parochial vicar, and Father Richard Harris, administrator of both Good Shepherd and Sacred Heart.

The two priests blessed the building and then celebrated Mass for about 200 parishioners who had gathered in the main room which has high ceilings and an airy atmosphere.

The new brick Family Life Center, built by Alpine Construction of McCormick, also contains a large kitchen, storage space, a meeting room, and offices for the church secretary and Father Marreddy.

Before the center’s construction, parish groups had to hold meetings in members’ homes or at area restaurants. No space was available for community meals or receptions, said church member Sandra Townsend, who along with husband Frank was one of many parish volunteers who worked toward getting the building completed.

“The building is wonderful — it ended up being beyond our expectations,” she said.

Good Shepherd, which has 299 registered members, is one of several small churches in the diocese that has experienced rapid growth in recent years because of an influx of Catholic retirees from the Northeast and Midwest. McCormick is located close to Lake Thurmond and a majority of its members live nearby in the Savannah Lakes community.

The intimate, quietly beautiful church was moved to the site from its original location in Abbeville. The Good Shepherd complex, along with the church and new center, now includes a rosary garden and a Stations of the Cross pathway set up at the front of the property.

Lush forests, which blanket most of the area, back up to to the Good Shepherd campus. Townsend said that timber cut from the church land was used to build parts of the new center.

She said that men from Good Shepherd and a local Lutheran church worked together to cut timber. They also collaborated on other parts of the building’s construction.

“It was a chance for us to have some ecumenical fellowship as well as work on the building,” she said.

Several parishioners have a special connection with the building because they volunteered labor for its construction or crafted items for use in the center and the church itself.

Father Marreddy said the completion of the building was the result of a long planning process that started in 2001, when Good Shepherd members first met to discuss the needs of the growing congregation. The group discussed whether to try for a new church or to build a gathering place, and decided on the center, he said. For the past three years, church members and staff have worked hard to raise the $350,000 needed for the new building.

“A lot of families have made a lot of sacrifices for this building, and I’m so happy to see it’s become a reality,” Father Marreddy said. “It’s been a beautiful experience to see people coming forward to work and to give. This parish has so much potential, and the people really show their faith in God in how they live their lives.”

Townsend said church members are already planning future events to take place in the new center, including a madrigal dinner during the Christmas season. Bill Demeter, a resident of McCormick and a member of Good Shepherd for five years, said, “Before this, we’ve had some people who have gone to other parishes in the area because we didn’t have any facilities here,” he said. “Now we’ll be able to gather together, and that means a lot.”

Published June 22, 2006, The Catholic Miscellany