Paulines nearing goal for much needed repair

CHARLESTON — The Daughters of St. Paul are making slow but steady progress toward their goal of having major repairs made to their King Street facility.

The Pauline Books and Media store at 243 King Street is in a building with sections that date from 1838. The second floor, where the four sisters have their convent, has serious problems with mold and water damage.

The order of the Pious Daughters of St. Paul has served in the Diocese of Charleston since 1985. The community works to spread the Good News through books and media. The sisters sell Catholic publications and other resources both at the King Street store and by traveling to parishes and events at other sites around the Southeast.

Like everyone else, the sisters are feeling pinched by the  economy and have seen its effects already, said Sister Jane Livingston, who works in the bookstore full time.

“We have definitely felt the economic recession,” she said. “Who hasn’t? That makes it even more difficult for us with the building situation. None of the funds we raise through selling books really pay for our building; that money goes toward the mission of spreading the Gospel.”

However, donations continue to come in for the renovation project. As of early November, the sisters had raised about $57,000 toward their $70,000 goal.

Sister Jane said the damage to the second floor has been building up slowly over the past decade, and noted that it can no longer go unaddressed.

The Paulines received some much-needed help from the public after WCSC TV, Channel 5 in Charleston, featured a story about the water damage.

Sister Jane said seven companies that specialize in building repairs responded to the story, and out of those they connected with two who were able to provide concrete assistance.

Representatives of the arch i tectural firm Cummings and McCrady, Inc. of Charleston, and a general contractor, NBM Construction of North Charleston, have also contacted the Paulines to volunteer their services for the project, Sister Jane said.

People from area parishes have been supportive. Sister Jane said an advisory board for the building project was formed, and they hosted a Harvest Moon Ball on Oct. 24 at Stella Maris Church on Sullivans Island. Eight inches of rain fell that night, but 75 people attended and $7,400 was raised for the renovations.

Donations have come in from other churches, including St. Benedict and Christ Our King in Mount Pleasant. The sisters have collected proceeds from events they have organized at the store. They hosted special tea gardens during the spring to educate the public about their work in Charleston. The teas also were held during the Spoleto Festival and visitors could make contributions.

The Paulines are hosting an art show, “Heaven on Earth” through the end of January. The show features original paintings and prints for sale by artist Gary Hoff, and part of the proceeds will go toward building repairs. They even have plastic donation bins displayed on the counter at the store, along with pictures and a description of the needed renovations.

“A dollar here, five dollars there — it all collects and adds up,” Sister Jane said. “It’s a constant work. It’s not moving by leaps and bounds but it’s moving forward. I’m really grateful for what’s been done so far, and I do believe that in 2009 we’ll probably be able to start work on the renovation.”

To contact the Daughters of St. Paul, call (843) 577-0175.