Easter 2003

Palm Sunday

Praised Be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

Dear People of St. Mary’s Church,

At the beginning of this Holy Week, the Church’s annual remembrance of the passion, death, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, our parish family is thriving, and we have many blessings for which to be thankful.

Human Growth and Discipleship

St Mary’s is now home to 6,200 persons, and this makes us the forth largest parish family in the Diocese of Charleston. Only five years ago, our membership was 3,500 persons-a staggering increase of 77%. And this growth will only continue. The best estimates from U. S. Census data suggest that the Catholic population of Greenville County will increase from 25,000 today to 35,000 by 2010, and we need to begin planning now for how to welcome those people, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Much more important than how many people call St. Mary’s home deeply each person here is committed to following the Lord Jesus Christ in the obedience of faith, and God’s grace is at work among us. Providing pastoral care and human services to our people is our most important priority, and to that end our parish staff is growing. Last year we added two positions: the Assistant to the Pastor for Evangelization and Pastoral Services and the Director of Volunteer and Social Services. David Tiede Hottinger and Nicky Wallace have already made extraordinary contributions to the quality of our parish life, and in many ways, their work is just beginning. I hope that you will continue to assist them by making known your needs and offering your gifts at the service of others.

To respond to the demands placed on our staff and facilities by such growth, we now need to add a Director of Stewardship and Development, who will be responsible for helping every member of the parish family identify and use their time, talent, and treasure for the common good of our church and school and the service of our community. We are actively searching now for the best person for this position, and I hope to announce good news to you in the near future.

Physical Improvements

The restoration of our noble church has given us one of the most beautiful places of prayer in the Diocese of Charleston or the Province of Atlanta. This complex project cost us almost $2 million, but the preservation of this historic building of the Mother Church of Catholicism in Upstate South Carolina was well worth the sacrifice. We are also nearing the completion of the exterior lighting, landscaping, sidewalks, and the new Holy Family Plaza between the church and Sacred Heart Hall. After Easter, the new Heritage Walkway of engraved bricks will be installed on the west side of the church, between the driveway and Washington Street. When this work is complete, our campus will be a place of rare beauty and repose in the heart of the city.

In the coming months, much more remains to be done. We must complete the restoration of Notre Dame Hall in the church basement, complete the acquisition of the vacant lot at the corner of Washington and Butler Streets, repay a construction loan to the diocese, replace the roof and doors of the church office, and continue to make payments of interest and principal on our parish debt. Just these projects alone require capital spending of about $1 million in the coming year, and that’s over and above our normal operating budget from the primary collections.

Parish Councils and Public Meeting

On Thursday 8 May 2003 we will have a “town hall” meeting for the entire parish, and everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss our present needs and future plans and to explain the nature and functions of our two consultative bodies: the Pastoral Council and the Finance Council. Because of the possibilities for acquiring land adjacent to our campus and the purposes for future growth, we are now at a crossroads in the 150 year history of St. Mary’s Church, and I hope that every member of the parish family will share in shaping our future. The meeting will be at 7:00 pm Gallivan Hall. Please mark this date on your calendar now.

Easter Gift

Enclosed with this letter is a schedule for all of the liturgies of Holy Week and an envelope for the second collection on Easter Sunday. Please consult the schedule for the time and place of each event on campus during the Paschal Triduum. Families with children and others who need easy access to restrooms and handicapped parking are encouraged to attend one of the Masses in the gym. In addition to the normal first collection for our operating budget, we will take a second collection for the Fund Drive to help us pay for all of the projects described above. I ask every household in the parish to make a sacrificial Easter gift for the future of St. Mary’s. Seeking the intercession of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and with an assurance of my prayers for you and your families, I remain sincerely
Yours in Christ,
Father Jay Scott Newman