Sisters of Charity reconnect with Neighborhood House outreach

CHARLESTON — The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy have assumed sponsorship of the Neighborhood House, an outreach formerly operated by Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Charleston.

The change was initiated by the sisters as part of their 175th celebration as a religious community in the diocese and from their desire to serve the poor, according to a press release issued by the order.

Neighborhood House, located at 77 America St., has served the Charleston community since 1915 when it was established as a social service center and home nursing outreach by the Sisters of Charity and St. Francis Xavier Hospital. The outreach met the needs of the local community by offering emergency services, community organizing, health services, an educational center for young boys, and a “haven of hope” within the neighborhood.

In the 1960s, Catholic Charities assumed the sponsorship of this work, and a soup kitchen was started under the leadership of the late Msgr. Thomas Duffy. The Franciscan Sisters of Minnesota ministered to the local community under the direction of Sister Colleen Waterman, who directs Echo House in North Charleston, and the late Sister Maigread Conway.

Along with countless faithful volunteers, these women developed services and gained the respect of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Over the past five years, Sparkhill Dominican Sister Patricia Keating has supervised the operation on America Street. She will continue as the director of Neighborhood House, working with dedicated volunteers and staff members Vonceil Mitch-ell, Benjamin Gethers and Dorothy Rose. They serve the community through emergency services, a daily meal program and educational opportunities. Sister Keating said that Neighborhood House has been a sign of God’s presence in the East Side of downtown Charleston for many years.

“The commitment by the Sisters of Charity to sponsor this good work once again gives hope to so many people who have often felt abandoned,” Sister Keating said. “I look forward to continuing this service and working with the people in addressing the needs of the community.”

In the press release, Sister Bridget Sullivan, general superior of the order, said that she was excited to resume the ministry and reconnect to the diocesan sisters’ long history of service within the Charleston community.

“Our sisters are delighted to sponsor this ministry in which the community has such a rich history,” Sister Sullivan said. “This ‘new’ beginning is an appropriate way to celebrate our 175th anniversary in the diocese.”

Neighborhood House will function as a part of Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity located on Johns Island.

To learn more about Neighborhood House or volunteer opportunities, contact Sister Pat Keating at (843) 723-7784.