St. Mary Magdalene parish continues to grow

Miscellany/Terry Cregar: Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and Father Teo Trujillo, pastor of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville, pose with officials during the ground breaking of the church’s new parish life center on Oct. 27.

SIMPSONVILLE­—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone joined Father Theo Trujillo, pastor of St. Mary Magdalene, along with several hundred parishioners for the formal ground-breaking and blessing at the site of their new parish life building.

The brief, late-afternoon ceremony on Oct. 27 took place outdoors, next to the construction site, and continued into the evening with a Mass of thanksgiving in the church, followed by a reception in the parish life center.

Work is well underway on the new addition in the form of site preparation and footings for the building. The parish is raising more than $8 million to pay for construction and equipment for the facility. The new building will include a gymnasium, two meeting halls, a kitchen, six meeting rooms, green outdoor space and 29 additional parking spaces.

St. Mary Magdalene started in the late 1980s as a mission church. At that time, roughly 300 people attended Mass at a nearby Methodist church while a permanent gathering space was being built. That church, now the parish life center, shortly gave way to a larger structure built in the late 1990s and expanded in 2004.

Over the past three decades, the parish has grown to more than 4,000 families, reflecting an ongoing population boom in the area that includes Mauldin, Simpsonville and Fountain Inn. 

The parish is currently the largest in the diocese, a fact Bishop Guglielmone expanded upon in his remarks ahead of the groundbreaking.

“The parish has recognized that it needs to continue to grow, to provide the resources, to provide the opportunities so people can come together and in one way or another proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the bishop said. “While a parish community cannot exist without the Eucharist, without its prayer life, there is much more to a parish community than simply coming together to pray, to worship, to thank God.

“That’s why this parish life building is so important, with opportunities for all kinds of ways for people to interact,” he continued. 

In welcoming Bishop Guglielmone, Father Trujllio gave thanks to God for His guidance.

“This is the day when we come together to express our gratitude to the Lord, because he has been so gracious with us,” Father Trujillo said. “This is about building the kingdom of God.” 

Joining Bishop Guglielmone and Father Trujillo for the groundbreaking were representatives from the project’s architect and general contractor, along with representatives of the various parish councils and committees assigned to oversee the planning and financing for the new building. 

Among those turning a shovel was Bob Cardone, who chairs the capital campaign committee. He said the new center is vitally needed to facilitate the interaction of parishioners, especially the younger ones.

“We’re the only Catholic church in the Upstate that doesn’t have a gymnasium for children to play in,” he said. 

For years the parish has used gymnasiums at neighboring churches for its indoor youth athletic programs.

“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, but we’re looking forward to its completion immensely.”

Cardone said the parish expects to move into the new building in the fall of 2020.