Columbiettes show unity, faith and charity

COLUMBIA—Membership in the Columbiettes is a family affair for Melanie Spurlock. She and her mother, Marion Gamache, belong to the Beaufort auxiliary. Gamache is known as the cake lady because she bakes for special events. The duo also helps with projects.

“Through Columbiettes, we can help promote our Catholic faith and do good for not only the church but the community as well,” said Spurlock.

She was elected financial secretary at the group’s fourth annual convention on May 21 at St. John Neumann Church. About 80 women from the five auxiliaries in the diocese attended.

The Columbiettes, an organization for women to work with the Knights of Columbus, was founded in 1939 in New York. The first auxiliary in South Carolina was established in 2002 in Beaufort. Others are located in Taylors, Camden, Columbia and Summerville. They have more than 200 members statewide.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass for  the group. His homily focused on discovering the presence of God in daily life instead of waiting for it to show through a supernatural occurrence.

“We become the presence of God through the Holy Spirit working through us,” he said. “… All the good work you as Columbiettes do is a manifestation of God’s kingdom on earth.”

The convention was dedicated to Mary, and included a memorial service honoring Columbiettes who have died, plus a rosary led by Father Casmir Maduakor, who is a supply priest at St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach.

The women elected officers and spent time talking with the bishop.

Besides Spurlock, newly named officers are Betty Richitelli, president; Paula Griffard, vice president; Lorraine Catoe, secretary; Janice Hessen, state treasurer; Mary Brown, state advocate; and Carmela Pastore, state sentinel. Florence Mucci is past president.

This will be the second term for Richitelli, a member of St. John Neumann. She said her first year as president taught her a lot about the Columbiettes and the role they play. The five auxiliaries support charities in their communities, including the Franciscan Center in Beaufort and Sistercare in Columbia.

Spurlock said members also take part in service projects of their own.

In Beaufort, for instance, Columbiettes regularly visit area nursing homes to play bingo, and hold ice cream socials and other events for residents.

Members are also planning a baby shower for Room at the Inn of the Carolinas in Hilton Head, which assists unwed mothers.

“I’ve learned that this organization has really made a difference in people’s lives, and through it I can really make a difference in my church and community,” Richitelli said. “The Columbiettes are about unity, charity and faith all working together.”