WALTERBORO—Good news is the word for St. James the Greater in Catholic Hill.
Father Jeffrey A. Kendall, pastor of the mission and St. Anthony Church in Walterboro, said the historic heart pine wood that was stolen recently has been returned.
Tips led to the location of the 140-year-old lumber, which was left by the side of a road in Green Pond. Father Kendall said he is relieved to have the high-quality, slow growth pine back, which will be used to build a new altar, lectern and baptismal font for the mission.
The wood was salvaged during the ongoing renovation of the mission’s old schoolhouse, which was built in 1870 by freed slaves. The ancient schoolhouse is being converted into a parish life center.
The new center will have classrooms on the second floor and a large meeting room on the first floor, Father Kendall said. An addition on the back will include a kitchen, pantry, bathrooms and storage. He added that classrooms are probably the most important aspect.
“We have to have religious education for our children,” he said. “It’s the center of our mission.”
When the building was closed 12 years ago, it led to the halt of religious instruction for youth, and a sharp decline in membership, Father Kendall said. He hopes that Catholic families will return with the completion of the new center.
Officials estimate that construction will be finished before the end of the year. The capital campaign set a goal of $350,000 for the cost of the project, and Father Kendall said they still need about $30,000.
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