St. Ann Outreach can expand thanks to new staff

KINGSTREE — Two new Felician Sisters of North America have arrived to help at the St. Ann Catholic Outreach Center.

Sisters M. Clarence Borkoski and M. Adrian Jumbelic started a year of service in Kingstree on July 1. They will work with the two resident Felicians, Sisters M. Suzanne Dziedzic and M. Johnna Ciezobka, who have run the outreach center for 16 years.

The “M” in their names is an abbreviation for Mary, which Felician sisters take as part of their religious names.

In 2006, St. Ann Catholic Outreach Center was named as the Multi-faceted Ministry Center for the Felician Sisters of North America. It offers both short- and long-term volunteer opportunities for the order’s members from around the world and gives them the opportunity to learn about outreach work in a southern rural area, according to Sister Suzanne.

The center offers many programs that serve the needy in Kingstree and around Williamsburg County, which is one of the largest and poorest counties in the state.

The newcomers are living in a rented house on Kelly Street that was renovated and furnished by volunteers. They were officially welcomed to the community with an open house and blessing by Father Jeffrey Kendall, pastor of St. Ann Church, on Aug. 17.

The sisters officially started their work in July by helping with a Bible camp and cooking classes for children. Because of the additional help, the outreach center was able to increase its existing programs. The Clothing Closet, a second-hand clothing shop which caters to the needy, will be open for longer hours on the first Saturday of each month; and the center will offer its takeout bag-lunch feeding program 10 months out of the year instead of three.

The new sisters will help with homework tutoring, organize family night programs, coordinate the growing health and nutrition program, and make home visits to the elderly, sick and lonely. They also will help with religious education and other needs at St. Ann Church.

At St. Philip the Apostle Church in nearby Lake City, they are setting up an outreach center to offer emergency food and clothing assistance.

Sisters Clarence and Adrian both visited Kingstree before and were looking for new directions in their lives as women religious. Sister Adrian, a native of Pennsylvania, spent many years as a science teacher, elementary school principal and administrator for the Felicians. Sister Clarence, an Ohio native, taught in primary and elementary schools in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia before “semi-retiring” in June.

“I have always been in awe of what they’ve done here in Kingstree,” Sister Adrian said. “Since I arrived, I’ve been impressed with how the whole community has embraced us as sisters and the work of the outreach center. The people here are so supportive.”

Sister Clarence agreed. “Everyone has been very, very friendly to us since we arrived,” she said. “I’m finding Kingstree to be a very loving, very beautiful place.”

Sisters Johnna and Suzanne said the extra help comes at a good time because demands on the outreach have increased as the economy worsens.

“You can see how hungry the people are when they arrive for the feeding program we offer,” Sister Suzanne said. “We served 130 people at a recent meal, and at another we gave out 50 bag lunches in eight minutes.”

Other Felician sisters from around the country saw what the outreach center offers and were able to help with programs during “Journey in Hope,” a summer short-term immersion program that ran July 26 to Aug. 2.

The hope is that some of these religious will follow the example of Sisters Clarence and Adrian and sign up for long-term work in Kingstree in the future.

The new sisters are supported by the Felician Sisters of North America, funding from the Collaborative Ministry Initiative of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, and private donations.