GREER—Many members of Blessed Trinity Church attend Mass in a place they or their loved ones helped build. The parish will celebrate its 25th anniversary at a 9:30 a.m. Mass Sept. 12.
Sylvia Semones, one of the main organizers of the celebration, has been a parishioner since a group of about 40 families started meeting for Mass in the ’70s.
The community was founded in 1974 as part of what was known then as The Greer-Taylors Endeavor, meant to serve a growing number of Catholics in eastern Greenville County.
One group in Taylors met at Lee Road United Methodist Church and later developed into Prince of Peace Church.
Semones’ family and others in Greer worshipped in borrowed space at Grace United Methodist Church until their own church on River Road was officially completed in 1985.
“It was very nice and very cozy, everybody knew everybody and everyone was concerned about everybody else,” Semones said.
According to the church website, www.blessedtrinity sc.com, an early parishioner named Dolly Sullivan left her entire estate to the parish upon her death. Sullivan liked to say that she thought she was the only Catholic in Greer during the 1940s, and was happy to see more moving into the area.
Sullivan’s bequest, along with money from other parishioners, parish fundraisers, and funds from diocesan development and the Catholic Extension Society, helped build the new church.
Semones said parishioner Jack VanDenMeiracker, a contractor, led the building effort. Through research, she also discovered that Sullivan won a contest and was responsible for picking the name of the church.
The parish history states 4,703 man-hours of labor went into the construction, so costs were cut in half.
Over the years, the population in Greer has grown and area demographics have changed. Blessed Trinity now serves more than 1,400 registered households, including a large Hispanic community. Masses are held weekly in both English and Spanish. Father Oscar Borda Rojas is the parish administrator.
John Heberger and his wife Bea are original parishioners. He recalled spending many weekends working on the church. He said VanDenMeiracker taught building skills to the men, and no one was injured during the nine-month process.
“When we finished the project, everybody felt as if the parish were an extended family,” Heberger said. “The parish has changed over the decades but we still have that feeling of closeness.”
Ann McCord of Easley was the first full-time parish secretary, and she remembers the excitement of building the church. One of her sons was in college during the winter of 1984-85 when much of the work went on. He and a friend spent a week of their Christmas break helping with the building, she said.
She also pitched in by staining the wood on doors and window frames, and other duties. She said many parish women volunteered to cook meals for the men while they worked.
McCord’s family has since moved to Easley and she attends St. Anthony of Padua Church in Greenville, but said she’ll return to Blessed Trinity for the anniversary.
“Everybody was very proud of the church when it was completed,” she said. “It was a very hospitable community where everybody knew everybody.”
Becky Crabtree, who is helping organize the anniversary celebration, vividly remembers watching her husband Robert perched high in the rafters inside the church hard at work.
“It’s fantastic to worship in a place that you know your husband helped to build,” Crabtree said. “It’s just a community of people who really enjoy being there on Sunday morning and being together. I don’t see myself ever leaving.”