Peitler is new social ministry director

CHARLESTON — Deacon Ed Peitler, the Diocese of Charleston’s new executive director for the Office of Social Ministries and Catholic Charities, hopes to use his experience to hone in on healthcare for the needy.

He is an ordained deacon for the diocese and serves in that role at St. Peter Church in Beaufort. He is also a licensed psychologist. That combination makes him an excellent candidate to continue the church’s work in social ministries in the state.

Before accepting his new role, Deacon Peitler was a consulting psychologist for the women’s and children’s services at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga. He also served as a psychological consultant for the gastric bypass surgical department there.

He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Manhattan College in New York, and a master’s and doctorate degree in clinical psychology from St. John University in New York.

Deacon Peitler succeeds Dorothy Grillo, who left to take a regional director’s position with Catholic Relief Services. He has worked in a clinical capacity at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center in New York. He also held adjunct professor positions, teaching at the graduate level, at Western Connecticut State University, Pace University and Manhattan College. He developed a master’s level curriculum for alcohol and substance abuse counselors while at Manhattan College.

The deacon also holds a certificate in bioethics studies from the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome.

In an interview with The Miscellany, Deacon Peitler described some of his goals for the four regional offices of Catholic Charities around the state.

“We operate with a skeleton staff compared to other dioceses around the country,” he said. “One of the things our limited resources needs to address is how to use the regional coordinators and staff to work at the parish level to identify where the greatest needs are within the diocese.”

Deacon Peitler sees the regional Catholic Charities coordinators as resource people who help parishes find financial resources for local social ministries. He plans on shifting the orientation of providing direct services out of those four offices.

“Under Dorothy the staff came up with creative programming that addressed the poor and disadvantaged,” he said.

He will increase services in areas of the diocese that the deanery offices have difficulty reaching.

“The Midlands office has to address Aiken which is two hours away from its office in Columbia,” Deacon Peitler said. “The newest deanery in the Lowcountry doesn’t have an office that addresses their needs. Using our personnel to really work within the parish structure to help further develop social ministry on a more localized basis is probably a more prudent approach.”

Another goal for the new director is to get Catholic Medical personnel involved in medical missions.

“I want to tap into the great wealth of medical talent to service the needs to the poor in, perhaps, Central America,” he said. He hopes to develop an affiliation with established medical missions to provide services to the “poorest of the poor.”

“I want to involve young people of 17 or 18 with these missions to help them further identify their own gifts of stewardship with the talents where they might be able to give to the community in terms of healthcare,” he said. “Once these teams have had the experience of confronting poverty of such dimensions they will return to the diocese and might be more sensitized to medical needs of the poor in South Carolina. They might look for ways to better address medical needs of new arrivals, the uninsured, and the elderly.”

The deacon will not be acting as the victims’ assistance minister, however. That position is being filled by Louisa Storen who can be reached at (800) 921-8122. Deacon Peitler can be reached at (843) 402-9115 ext. 14.