Bicentennial Campaign put on back-burner for final group of parishes

Miscellany/Deirdre C. Mays: Blessed Sacrament Church in Charleston.

The Bicentennial Campaign, designed to help the diocese and all its parishes, was in its final stage when the pandemic interrupted life as we know it.

Of the 114 churches and missions in the diocese, only 19 remained in the last leg of fundraising. Now, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone has placed an official halt on the campaign, at least temporarily, as churches focus on more immediate concerns.

“Amidst all the chaos that COVID-19 has wrought on our nation and state, our diocese was in the final stage of a very successful Bicentennial Campaign,” the bishop stated. “Our hope is to complete the efforts of the final block of parishes … at a future date.”

So what does that mean for the parishes that still have fundraising to do?

Each church or mission has a goal that they’ve set and they receive half of every dollar earned up to 100% of the goal. Once they surpass their goal, they receive a larger percentage.

The funds have been earmarked for various projects, renovations, maintenance and more. Without the Bicentennial funds, these final churches won’t be able to complete their punch list.

For example, Blessed Sacrament in Charleston has a goal of $1.2 million, which means they will receive $600,000 for the parish once they reach their goal. 

Some of the items they need to address include installation of a new restroom in the cry room, replacing and upgrading windows to mitigate energy costs, and repairing and rejuvenating the front doors of the church.

Carrie Mummert, director of the Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement, said COVID-19 has hit some parts of the state particularly hard, such as Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Camden, which has been devastated by the virus. Other churches in areas like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head have been impacted by loss of revenue from hotels and restaurants.

“Even with Masses resuming, it’ll still be a long time before we see everybody back in the pews,” she said.

Even with all that, Vann Ellen Mitchell, executive director of the Bicentennial Campaign, said they have been pleasantly surprised by the donations coming into some parishes.

St. Augustine in Union, which is one of the 19 in the final leg, has surpassed its goal. Three others are close to 100% and another four are over 40%.

Mitchell said resumption of the campaign will be up to individual pastors, although some with committees already in place have continued.

“It’s truly all due to the pastors and the people out there,” she said. “People do give to the need and they give to their church.”

The following parishes are in the last block of the Bicentennial Campaign fundraiser:

St. Augustine in Union

Our Lady of the Lake in Chapin

Sacred Heart in Gaffney

St. Ann in Florence  

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Greenville

St. Joseph in Columbia

St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken

St. Gregory the Great in Bluffton

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Edgefield

St. Thomas, the Apostle in North Charleston

St. Anthony Mission in Hardeeville

St. Theresa the Little Flower in Summerville

Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville

St. Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville

St. James the Younger in Conway

Blessed Sacrament in Charleston

Church of the Nativity on James Island

Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Camden

St. William in Ward

St. Clare of Assisi on Daniel Island

St. Anthony in Florence