Byzantines open two more missions in S.C.

BLYTHEWOOD—Two new missions have been established in South Carolina to serve Byzantine Catholics and those interested in the Byzantine Mass, also known as the Divine Liturgy.

Bishop Bohdan Danylo of the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio, visited the state March 17-18 to establish the Holy Cross Eastern Catholic Mission based at Transfiguration Church in Blythewood, and Dormition of the Mother of God Eastern Catholic Mission based at St. Rafka Maronite Church in Greer.

Father Joseph Matlak, who is administrator of St. Basil the Great Church in Charlotte, N.C., will oversee both. He said the goal is to celebrate the Byzantine Mass at each mission at least once a month, with plans to add additional times for holy days and feast days.

Father Matlak said Bishop Danylo began calling for Byzantine missions in urban areas in the Southeast in late 2016. The first was established in Augusta, Ga., and then, with Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone’s permission, he asked Father Matlak to explore opportunities in the Midlands and other areas of South Carolina.

“We are opening missions in this area now both because Byzantine Catholics are moving to the Carolinas for employment and for retirement, and also because there are many people in this area who are very attracted by Eastern Catholic traditions,” Father Matlak said.

“Traditionally, the Byzantine church has been associated with places like Pennsylvania and Ohio, and it is exciting to now see the Carolinas as an active area for mission outreach.”

The first Divine Liturgy in the Midlands was celebrated Oct. 1 at Transfiguration in Blythewood, a location chosen because of its proximity to I-77. Father Matlak said he chose Greenville for the second mission site because he learned there were Byzantine families living in the area, and also because of the Upstate’s growing Catholic population.

The March 18 Mass at Transfiguration attracted about 90 people, including many who have attended regularly since Divine Liturgy celebrations began in October. Other people were drawn from Roman rite parishes to experience the Byzantine rite for the first time.

Bishop Danylo brought along a relic of the true cross that many of those in attendance venerated; a special gesture because the mission is named Holy Cross.

There are now three sites for Byzantine worship in the state. Blessed Basil Hopko Mission outside Conway in Horry County was formed in 2009 and is led by the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, N.J.

The Byzantine Church is in full communion with Rome, and the national church is based in Pittsburgh.

Miscellany/Christina Lee Knauss: Bishop Bohdan Danylo of the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio, holds a relic of the true cross for a family to venerate after Divine Liturgy at the newly formed Holy Cross Eastern Catholic Mission in Blythewood.

A crowd of about 90 people attended the Byzantine Mass at Transfiguration Church on March 18.