Sister Pamela Smith writes history book for the diocesan bicentennial

Bishop John England helped launch the Diocese of Charleston almost 200 years ago. A book on diocesan history will be released June 1.

CHARLESTON—As the bicentennial anniversary of the diocese rolls closer, a book detailing its 200-year history is set to be released on June 1.

Written by our very own Sister Pamela Smith, director of the diocesan office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, the 224-page book features an additional 32-page full-color insert.

Titled “A History of the Diocese of Charleston: State of Grace”, Sister Pam said the book is thematic and chronological.

“It begins with the narrative of the Catholic presence at Santa Elena from 1566-1587 and concludes with very recent events affecting Catholic life,” she said. “One 2020 event that didn’t make it into the book, though, is COVID-19!”

The novel coronavirus was not a factor at the time the book went to press. The impact of the pandemic and the church’s response could be a book unto itself.

Sister Pam said writing the tome was a joyful learning experience that took her all over the state.  

“There were visits to museums and archives — like the Santa Elena Center in Beaufort showing the history of the 16th century Catholic settlement at what is now Parris Island — the diocesan archives, the Heritage Room and archives of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, and the Museum of African American History at the Smithsonian,” she said. 

She also traveled to parishes, schools, ecumenical and interfaith gatherings, and outreach centers, and did a lot of reading. 

Published by History Press, the diocese will have copies available to the public, but details on how sales will be managed are still being ironed out. Some books will be available at the Bicentennial Mass planned for the Basilica of St. Peter on July 11 in Columbia.

Sister Pam said her religious community — the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius — will have a supply and will be able to send them to people from her office address: 5 Park Circle, Bluffton, SC 29910. She may also be contacted at or 843-819-7991.

History Press will also circulate “State of Grace” through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and other outlets, along with an e-book edition. The book is also available for purchase on the diocesan website:

Sister Pam said she is hopeful that future book talks slated for late spring/early summer will proceed as planned.

“I will be happy to speak to any group anywhere and will tailor the talks to local interest,” she said.

Editor’s Note: Sister Pam shared excerpts from her book in this short video series.