Catholic organizations trying to boost local businesses, employment

Business expo, supporting local business

Business expo, supporting local businessMONCKS CORNER — St. Philip Benizi Church is doing its part to help Catholic businesses in these difficult economic times.

The parish sponsored a business expo Oct. 11 that brought people together over food and raffles. Laura Donovan, who helped organize the event, said it was a great way to put people’s faces with their businesses.

Donovan said she was familiar with the Swamp Fox Bowling Center, and knows Celeste Stroud, who is a church member, but she did not know the Strouds own the bowling alley until she organized the expo.

Likewise, her fellow parishioners were unaware that Donovan is a direct seller of Pampered Chef products.

“If we can support each other, especially in this tough economy, that’s what we want to do,” she said.

Walter Hahne, who leads an Employment Support Group at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville, said every parish should hold a business expo to support their members.

“We have an unemployment crisis, we have a business crisis in this diocese, in this state,” Hahne said.

He encouraged parishes to hold expos after Mass about every six months, and to make it fun.

“Any action would have to be actively supported by the pastor and parishioners,” he added.

The dismal employment statistics and struggling businesses have caught the attention of Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who encouraged pastors and parishioners to provide active support for those in financial crisis.

Not only is unemployment soaring, but Catholics who have had their own businesses for years are closing down.

Bill and Fran Levay, who opened a National Home Video store in Mount Pleasant in 1986, said video stores as a whole are struggling, and theirs was no different. Still, after attending a Caritas retreat in July, the couple decided to honor the Sabbath by closing on Sundays.

“The decision was probably a disaster financially, but tremendous spiritually,” Mr. Levay said.

The Levays held their final day of business recently. He said they are now working as a Shaklee Distributor, and will continue to honor the Sabbath.

Although the economy remains bleak, there are ways to find or offer help. Hahne said churches could create a listing of parishioners who run their own businesses, and members could check out the ads on the back of church bulletins and frequent the establishments of fellow Catholics.

Employers wishing to advertise vacancies can be listed on a database sponsored by Catholic Charities at

Also, those looking for jobs can find help at several places including:

  • The Employment Support Group at St. Mary Magdalene, (864) 275-7144 or (864) 288-4884.
  • World of Work at Precious Blood of Christ Church on Pawleys Island,  (843) 237-2293.
  •, which lists over 8,000 job opportunities.