NORTH CHARLESTON — St. John Church and its parish school hosted a whirlwind of activities May 15-17 to celebrate their anniversaries of 80 and 60 years, respectively.
They kicked off the festivities with a dance May 15, followed by family fun May 16. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass on the final day and joined parishioners for a luncheon to wrap up the weekend.
For many of the adults at St. John, the Mass and words of encouragement from the bishop were the best part of the event. Several from the jam-packed crowd of about 200 mentioned the bishop’s remarks and how comforting it was for them to hear.
“He told us he was grateful for the 80 years of service from this parish and was looking forward to the next 100,” said Christian Brother Edward Bergeron, parish life facilitator.
“It spoke volumes to have the bishop give such a clear sign that this little parish has a future,” he told The Miscellany in an interview.
St. John, which is off Rivers Avenue near the Naval Hospital and just blocks from the former Charleston Naval Base, took a severe hit when the base closed in 1996. They have struggled to recover ever since.
Parishioners have worried about the future of the church and school, but now neighborhood developments are growing nearby and Brother Ed said they are making plans for expansion.
Jeanette Dangerfield, school secretary, said she is most excited about the new windows that will be put in the school over the summer, and Brother Ed said they also plan to renovate the parish hall restrooms.
Along with Mass and Bishop Guglielmone’s homily, the dance and family fun day were both a rousing success. The dance drew about 100 people, including current teachers, former teachers and alumni. Eleanor Jacobs described it as a wonderful social gathering with delicious food and a bit of line dancing thrown in.
“My husband saw people he went to school with at St. John’s that he hadn’t seen in 50 years,” she said.
The next day, the younger crowd joined in the festivities with jump castles, games, food, and best of all, a dunking booth where Brother Ed spent most of his time.
“My son dunked Brother Ed on the first throw, so he was thrilled,” said Lisa Jones. Avery, who is in seventh grade at St. John, and the rest of the youth, did not let intermittent downpours dampen their spirits. In fact, Jones said playing in the puddles may have been the best part of their day.
As the children played, the adults sipped coffee under the shelter of tents and discussed the future of their parish.
St. John was founded in 1929, the year the stock market crashed and signaled the start of the Great Depression. The church has been through its own tough times the past 13 years, but is hopeful about the future.
Brother Ed said they expect a big increase in the area’s population as families move into the new developments. He also is praying that the area across the street follows North Charleston’s master plan and is developed as a residential area. If that happens, they may even get a grocery store or shopping center.
Until then, Brother Ed said the church will continue to be a beacon of hope and love for its congregation and its neighbors.