Dear Friends in Christ,
The full and complete reality of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church exists in every diocese (or, in the Christian East, eparchy), because each diocese or eparchy consists of a bishop surrounded by priests and deacons, together serving all of the baptized in the territory of the Particular Church. This is why the diocese, not the parish, is the basic theological and canonical unit of the Church’s life. But to facilitate the coordination of all pastoral activity in its several parishes, every diocese in the universal Church is subdivided into smaller districts called deaneries or vicariates forane – from the Latin word “foraneus” meaning outside of the city, in this case the See City or place in which the diocesan bishop resides. These deaneries or vicariates forane are created by the diocesan bishop along geographical lines so that groups of neighboring parishes may cooperate in a variety of ways to fulfill the Great Commission, and from time to time the boundaries of deaneries are adjusted to reflect the changing circumstances of the diocesan Church.
Several months ago Bishop Guglielmone asked the Presbyteral Council (a group or senate of priests who advise the bishop) to consider the possibility of modifying the boundaries of our deaneries, and the diocesan Office of Research and Planning provided detailed demographic data for the Council’s consideration. In January, the Council unanimously recommended to Bishop Guglilemone that he establish two new deaneries, and he accepted that recommendation. Accordingly, on Easter Sunday the number of deaneries in the Diocese of Charleston will go from five to seven, and this growth reflects the increase in the number of Catholics in South Carolina. For many years, our five deaneries have been named according to their region in the state (the Pee Dee Deanery, Coastal Deanery, Low Country Deanery, Midlands Deanery, and Piedmont Deanery), but with the creation of the two new vicariates the names will change to reflect the principal city in each deanery: Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Beaufort, Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken, and Greenville.
Most Catholics know little about these structures, and the creation of the new deaneries will be felt in the pew not at all. But to the priests who serve our parishes and to the bishop’s staff who assist him in fulfilling his duties to teach, sanctify and govern the Church in South Carolina, this change signifies a new day in our diocese and will help us respond more effectively to the steady growth of the Diocese of Charleston. In the e-bulletin we are including a map of the territories of the seven deaneries, and you will not be surprised to learn that the largest number of Catholics, by a substantial margin, live within the Greenville Deanery – an encouraging fact that should spur us all to a renewed dedication to leading others to saving faith in the Lord Jesus through radical conversion, deep fidelity, joyful discipleship and courageous evangelism.
Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!