Sister Maryjane Golden leaving religious education to further her own

CHARLESTON — Sister Maryjane Golden, a Sister of St. Mary of Namur, will say goodbye July 8 to the 10-year ministry that has changed her life in many ways.

Sister Maryjane has served as director of religious education for St. Patrick and Our Lady of Mercy churches in Charleston.

After spending some time at her motherhouse in Buffalo, N.Y., she will attend the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, from August through December. The school offers a sabbatical program for religious. Following her sabbatical year, she plans to follow wherever God leads.

“I know that God will have a ministry waiting for me when the time comes,” she said.

Sister Maryjane came to the diocese in 1985, a time when religious education programs were virtually nonexistent in many churches. Through her ministry many lives were changed, and those people showed their esteem at a special farewell party held in her honor June 11 at St. Patrick’s Father Figaro Hall. Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. even issued a decree naming June 11, 2006, “Sister Maryjane Golden Day.”

Those whose lives she touched frequently mention her love for God and her infectious laughter.

“I will never forget her smile,” said Dwight Heyward, a catechist from Sister Maryjane’s first class. “She would laugh and even when it wasn’t even funny we couldn’t help but laugh too. She taught us about spirituality in a way that really broke it down. I don’t know where I would be without her.”

Chardae Williams, an active participant in the youth program, has known Sister Maryjane for as long as she can remember.

“She kept me in contact with God,” said Williams. “Without the sacraments I wouldn’t be as in-depth in my faith in God. I am just thankful to Sister for what she has taught me.”

Sister Maryjane’s first assignment in South Carolina was to St. Ann outreach in Kingstree, where she spent nine years. She also served for two years at St. Michael in Garden City.

She ended up with the position at St. Patrick after a friend placed her resume in the hands of then-pastor Father Richard Harris, who is now at St. Joseph Church in Columbia.

“It really happened by chance that I came here,” Sister Maryjane said.

Her primary goal upon arrival was to build up the religious education program, and she attributes her success to the kind and generous spirit of the people in the parish.

“I never had any problem getting people to help and I was blessed in the fact that I had very low turnover among them,” she said.

In addition to building up the now-flourishing program, Sister Maryjane has overseen the baptismal preparation program, the liturgical ministry, and the youth ministry. She has also served on the diocesan pastoral council, the board for catechetical advisers, and the Coastal Area Directors of Religious Education. She has held several women’s conference workshops and confirmation retreats.

“It has been a most enriching experience meeting such wonderful and committed people across the diocese,” she said. “I will miss the people very dearly. These are people with a great faith. I have learned a lot about trust, acceptance, forgiveness, and risk taking.”

Sister Maryjane made the decision to leave in order to recharge after serving for 10 years with no breaks in her ministry.

“I really need to do this, but I will honestly say that the hardest point in making my decision to leave was thinking of leaving the people,” she said.  “I want them to know that I love them and that the most important thing is to know God is in their lives and live by that.”