The Cummings march through life side by side

Pro-life couple, marriage

Pro-life couple, marriageCOLUMBIA—The proof that there is strength in numbers and power in prayer can be found in the marriage of Roosevelt and Virginia Cummings.

For the past 23 years, he’s participated in the March for Life in Columbia, and for many of those he helped lead the procession from the Russell House to the State House while dressed in the full regalia of a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus.

His wife stands by his side, braving cold January temperatures to show their support for life.

That’s how these parishioners of St. Martin de Porres Church in Columbia do nearly everything when it comes to their Catholic faith: side by side.

Mr. and Mrs. Cummings are well-known members at their church in the historic Waverly neighborhood. On a recent Sunday morning, dozens of people greeted them both at the beginning and end of Mass. They are at the church at least a few days every week, helping with everything from folding bulletins to organizing missalettes. Mr. Cummings is also an usher and has served on the St. Martin de Porres School board, and both of them organize parish pro-life activities.

“Life is precious and it’s a gift from God,” Mrs. Cummings said. “The focus on pro-life concerns is something that should be ongoing, a daily part of your life, not just during special events.”

Mr. Cummings was raised Protestant in Orangeburg but attended a Catholic school in kindergarten and first grade. The nuns who taught him had a big impact, he said.

“There was something about seeing them in that black and white habit, and when they called your name and asked you to do something, it felt like a real honor,” he said. “I think from that time on I was drawn to the church.”

His family later moved to North Carolina and then New York before Mr. Cummings returned to South Carolina. After he moved to Columbia for work in the ’70s Mr. Cummings attended what was then Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. He became a Catholic when the entire congregation came into communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

He quickly joined the Knights of Columbus, which soon became a major part of his life. Mr. Cummings became a full member of the Knights in 1984 and advanced to a fourth-degree Knight in 1986. He has held important district and statewide offices, including a term as state deputy from 2004-2006.

He is especially proud of his work  with the council at St. John Neumann Church, including organizing athletic events and parties for young people. He has also helped at St. John Neumann School, painting and doing other work when needed, and organizing successful “Operation Hope” candy sales to benefit people with disabilities.

Mrs. Cummings, a native of Orangeburg, became a Catholic eight years ago after the two were married at Holy Trinity Church in her hometown. She is a retired social studies teacher who worked in public schools in Allendale County and Charleston.

After her career in education, she refocused the energy she used in the classroom to her work with the church. Mr. Cummings retired in 2004 after 36 years working in the mail center for the South Carolina House of Representatives. Soon, the couple, who have no children, were spending most of their weekends on the road traveling to Knights of Columbus events.

Their frequent trips around the state provide them plenty of time to develop their prayer life.

“We do a prayer together before we leave, and then pray going down the road,” Mrs. Cummings said. “When you’re traveling, the rosary is an ideal way to pray.”

Both say their Catholic faith is what keeps them going.

“My faith means everything to me,” Mr. Cummings said with a smile. “I couldn’t stay sane if I didn’t have my faith. When you have that, it seems like you’re protected from all the bad things that are going on in the world.”

Mrs. Cummings said prayer is her first thought when a day begins.

“I wake up in the morning and thank the Lord for the fact I’m waking up, I thank him for being able to move around, for having my health,” she said. “I just thank him constantly.”

Mr. and Mrs. Cummings don’t think their devotion to volunteering at their church is unusual. Instead, both say it’s a necessary part of living Catholicism to its fullest.

“We need to feel like we’re truly part of the church, and you don’t do that just by coming to Mass and paying money,” Mr. Cummings said. “How can you have a true Christian experience if you don’t get involved?”