Christ the Divine Teacher changes from parish to campus ministry

CHARLESTON—Christ the Divine Teacher parish, located on The Citadel campus, has officially changed in status to a campus ministry.

The change was made effective June 1 by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone after consultation with the pastor, Father Dennis Willey, and the Presbyteral Council.

The campus as a territory has been incorporated into that of Sacred Heart parish. Its church is located at 888 King St., less than a mile away, where Father Willey is also pastor.

Parishes are generally divided geographically and their members are typically comprised of the Catholics living within those boundaries.

Some are formed on a different basis, however. Sometimes national, ethnic or campus parishes can also be established to serve the needs of the faithful.

Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler established Christ the Divine Teacher as a territorial parish made up of the campus boundaries in 1968. Blessed Sacrament Chapel was donated in perpetuity to the Catholic community by Gen. Mark Clark, university president, in 1965. It is located in Mark Clark Hall.

Father Willey said there is less need for a parish designation at The Citadel in present day. When it was established, cadets were separated from their families and parishes, and had limited communication available to them. Today, that is no longer an issue.

Also, he said it was really a parish in name only as it had no registered members.

Most of the people who live or work on campus didn’t consider Christ the Divine Teacher as their parish, the chaplain explained. The Catholic faculty and staff go to their own churches. He added that even the cadets will often go to other places for Mass on weekends because they “live, work and breathe The Citadel all week long.”

The campus ministry will remain unchanged, however.

“Everything we have done, we will continue to do,” Father Willey said. “We are just no longer a parish. We are back where we were originally, a ministry of Sacred Heart Church.”

Father Willey estimates that about 75 cadets regularly attend their Monday and Thursday night meetings and about 125 students attend Mass there though there are many more Catholics at the school.

Mass is offered regularly while cadets are on campus and they have weekly Bible study meetings, a Knights of Columbus Council and a Rite of Christian Initiation program.

Father Willey said that ministry needs support from the community and encouraged people to give to The Citadel Foundation’s Catholic Chaplain Discretionary Fund and its Catholic Alumni Endowment.

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