MANNING — Two years ago Bishop Robert J. Baker dedicated the Diocese of Charleston to Our Lady of Joyful Hope. On Dec. 7 he dedicated Manning’s new church to Our Lady of Hope.
In his homily Bishop Baker tied the meaning of the feast of the Immaculate Conception to the devotion to Our Lady of Hope. It was his own personal devotion to Our Lady of Hope that led him to recommend the church being dedicated in her honor. He told the congregation that he visits the shrine to Our Lady of Hope — donated by the family of entertainer Bob Hope — at the National Basilica in Washington, D.C., when he attends U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meetings.
“In our day and time hope is a virtue that is critical for us as Catholics; the virtue of hope is the virtue that leads us from faith to charity,” he told The Miscellany. “Without hope we will never arrive at our sacred destinations in this life or in the next. The Blessed Mother is the great model of the virtue of hope; hence, Our Lady of Hope Church.”
At the dedication, Father Thomas Kingsley, administrator, presented the key to the church to Bishop Baker with a copy of the specifications for the building. Deacon Charles Walsh, building committee representatives, architect William Halasz, and general contractor Chris Hawkins were standing by. The bishop then invited those present to enter.
The dedication process included the bishop blessing water and sprinkling the faithful, gathered as a sign of repentance, as a reminder of their baptism. He then proceeded to purify the walls and the altar. The bishop presented the lectionary to the readers, saying, “May the word of God always be heard in this place, as it unfolds the mystery of Christ before you and achieves your salvation within the Church.”
The Gospel that day came from Luke 19: 1-10, concerning Jesus’ visit to the home of Zacchaeus, a tax collector. People grumbled about the Lord visiting a sinner, but Zacchaeus told Jesus he would give half of his possessions to the poor and repay by fourfold anyone he had defrauded. Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
The bishop told those gathered at the church that Jesus visited Zacchaeus’ house because the tax collector was a sinner. People should relate to the fact that Jesus was put on the cross by the so-called “saints” of the day.
“We need to see ourselves in the perspective of a sinner like Zacchaeus, who honestly acknowledged his sinfulness,” he said.
The bishop added, “Because we can see ourselves in the framework of Zacchaeus, we can better welcome Jesus into our hearts, homes and new church. He honestly admitted his failure as a sinner, as one who perhaps took more than his share of the tax. Because he was honest, he could welcome Jesus.”
During the prayer of dedication and the anointing of the altar and the walls, a relic of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was placed in a depository beneath the altar. The bishop then burned incense on the altar to symbolize that it is a place of sacrifice and that the Sacrifice of Calvary is perpetuated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The deacons then processed throughout the church, incensing the the walls — because it is a house of prayer and worship — and the people, because they are living temples of the Holy Spirit through baptism. The altar was then covered with a linen cloth and decorated with floral arrangements and candles. The bishop handed a deacon a lighted candle, saying, “Light of Christ, shine forth in the Church and bring all nations to the fullness of truth.”
It was Lebanese immigrants who settled in Summerton in 1899 who brought the fullness of truth to the area. If a priest was not available to say Mass in someone’s home, these Maronite Catholics had to travel by train to the nearest Catholic Church in Sumter and spend the night there. In 1913 several families purchased land and erected a small wooden chapel that became St. Mary Church. Bishop William T. Russell blessed the church in 1917 and it became a mission of St. Anne Church in Sumter with 37 members.
When Bishop Paul J. Hallinan established the church as a parish in 1960, it included 599 miles of Clarendon County. Mary Ellen Ridgill donated approximately six acres of farmland to the diocese with the stipulation that it be used as the site of a church. In 2000 the late Father Scott Buchanan completed a study examining the needs of Catholics in Clarendon County, and recommended that a church be built in Manning on the land.
In September 2001, Sunday Mass was celebrated in the auditorium of Manning High School to establish a presence. Three months later the location was changed to the Camper’s Paradise Campgrounds, next to the church property. The community operated as a mission of St. Mary Church in Summerton.
In 2003 Bishop Baker designated Manning and the Ridgill property as the home of Our Lady of Hope.
The new church is located on Raccoon Road and is a cruciform building. The Stations of the Cross are hand painted. The tabernacle is believed to have come from a Polish church in Philadelphia.
Father Kingsley’s mother donated the relic to the church. She received it in 1979 when one of her sons was in the hospital after an automobile accident. The Sisters of Charity, his teachers at Bishop England High School, brought the relic to the intensive care unit. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was the founder of the order.
The church will seat about 270 people. As the population grows, the space can expand to seat 550 because the structure has non-load-bearing walls that can be removed.
Pat Tobiassen contributed to this story.