St. Clare of Assisi sees a lot of progress in its year as a parish

DANIEL ISLAND—St. Clare of Assisi parish turned 1 year old in April, celebrating as it began with a large and joyous Easter Sunday Mass.

One of the differences that a year has made is the addition of about 500 people.

StClare1Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone announced the establishment of the parish in January 2014, and approved the name St. Clare of Assisi, which was chosen by parishioners, in April of that year.

St. Clare was then canonically established on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014, with a first Mass that drew 1,000 people to the Bishop England High School gym. This year saw a crowd of 1,500 at the Mass, said Father Gregory West, pastor.

The parish has grown even faster than anticipated, with a current membership of 550 households and nearly “1,200 souls,” Father West said.

As people have flocked in, the framework has been firmly established with a parish council, finance and stewardship councils, faith formation for children and RCIA. Additional ministries and programs are in development.

StClare4“We especially hope to have a strong social justice presence in the Berkeley and Charleston counties area,” Father West wrote in an email to The Miscellany.

Parishioners have already begun serving the communities through donations to ECCO grocery bag drives and support to the prison ministry team that serves Lieber Correctional Institute in Harleyville. The parish has also made a $4,000 donation to St. John School and contributed to food drives for Northwoods Middle School, both in North Charleston.

Their first annual golf outing in 2014 to benefit the building fund netted $75,000.

As of now, the parish is still looking for a site large enough for its needs. When they started the search for land, Father West said, “We have to think boldly and well beyond our own life span. We expect this will become a very large parish.”

StClare5Already, six acres adjacent to Bishop England have been deemed too small for a future church campus. With boundaries including Daniel Island, Cainhoy and Wando, plus future residential developments, the population is expected to grow to 50,000 people over the next 20 years. Daniel Island currently has about 8,000 people.

The parish’s beginnings go back to 2012 with the founding of the Good Shepherd Club, which consisted of a dedicated group of people who met for spiritual and social events.

Betsy Sarsfield, one of the club members, said it was a way for people to get to know each other and it quickly grew to more than 350 members — now considered the founders of the new parish.

Parishioners meet for weekday Masses at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross on Daniel Island, and said they’ve established a wonderful friendship with that congregation.