Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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School pastors learn to address challenges at institute








In just one week, Father Joseph Romanoski increased Hispanic enrollment at his parish school of Blessed Sacrament in Charleston, thanks to a workshop he attended at the School Pastors’ Institute conference held at Notre Dame recently.

The conference is designed to address the unique and complex challenges related to serving as pastor of a parish school. Held July 8-11, it featured a keynote address followed by a series of workshops given by priests.

Father Romanoski said one of his favorite talks was the “Welcome of Latino Children and Families” because it gave great insight to understanding the Spanish-speaking community and ways to open the doors of Catholic education to them.

As soon as he returned to his parish, he put the lessons he learned into practice, issuing a personal invitation to about seven families and meeting with the parents one–on-one.

“My four days at the conference already yielded seven new students from the Hispanic community,” he said. “It was a well worthwhile conference — time well spent.”

Aside from what he learned, Father Romanoski said the campus and spiritual atmosphere were both beautiful.

Sandra Leatherwood, diocesan director for Catholic education, said she recommended the conference to Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who invited several priests to attend. Aside from Father Romanoski, Father Gary Linsky, pastor of St. Peter Church and School in Columbia, and Father Christopher Smith, administrator of Prince of Peace Church and School in Taylors, also attended.

The School Pastors Institute provides a more global perspective to priests, Leatherwood said, and lets them share common challenges and solutions. The conference this year attracted over 100 pastors from the United States.

Father Romanoski said it’s a great way to re-energize and learn all the newest statistics on Catholic education, plus share insights and tools to help the schools in their mission.

One statistic that gladdens the hearts of school pastors shows that students who attend Catholic schools do better in high school and college and make more of an impact in their community and society as a whole.

There are 28 diocesan and parochial elementary schools that are guided by pastors. The bishop has full oversight of the three diocesan high schools, and oversight of the religious curriculum at the private ones, although all five have chaplains who celebrate Mass and minister to the needs of the student body.

The role of the school pastor, said Father Romanoski, is to provide support, guidance and encouragement to the principal, who is in charge of daily decisions.

“You have to be the backbone for the school,” he said. “My role is to keep fanning the flame of Catholic education.”

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Cretzmeyer discovers a rare vocation to the Church

MURRELLS INLET— Stacy Cretzmeyer, Ph.D., an author and licensed professional counselor, will receive one of the oldest sacramentals in the Church on Aug. 15.

The long-time member of St. Michael Church will be consecrated as a virgin living in the world, according to Canon 604.

The vocation of consecrated virginity dates back to the earliest centuries of the Catholic Church. The consecrated virgin’s mission is to serve the Church as virgin, bride, and mother. She strives to imitate Mary in leading a life of prayer, penance, sacrifice, and service, especially to her diocese.

This is different from vows professed by religious sisters, who follow the charism of their particular community, however.

The consecrated virgin is called to live her apostolate in a personal way, guided by the Holy Spirit. She does not live in a community, but in her own home, and must earn her own living. Cretzmeyer will continue to work as a counselor in private practice, but much of her free time will be spent in prayer, assisting at Mass, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Her canonical status is indicated by a ring.

“This vocation is definitely counter-cultural,” Cretzmeyer said in a press release. “[Father Thomas] Dubay calls it ‘the most radical lifestyle one can imagine.’ It is not easy to give witness to a different way of life, but our Lord gives us the grace to do what He asks of us for the sake of the kingdom.”

She will join in a vocation shared by approximately 200 others who are currently registered in the United States, according to the Association of Consecrated Virgins based in Lansing, Mich.

Though she dated and wanted to marry and have children, Cretzmeyer said she felt a growing call to a deeper relationship with Christ.

“The Lord was making a growing statement to me over a period of years,” she said.

She had a deep desire to help people grow closer to Jesus, but discerned that she did not have a vocation to the religious life. Cretzmeyer was considering making private vows to God when a priest suggested she consider being consecrated to Christ.

“Father Christian Carr, the retired Abbot of Mepkin Abbey, encouraged me to pray about it every day, in the sense of turning my life over to the Lord,” she said. “At the time, I was not ready for such a public witness. I thought I could just make private promises to the Lord, and that would be the end of the vocation question.”

The meaning and focus of her vocation became clear when she joined the Corpus Christi Marian Movement, developed by Father Stanley Smolenski, spma, director of the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina — Our Lady of Joyful Hope.

A group of prayerful friends helped her form a Corpus Christi Cenacle at St. Michael Church in 2011 that followed the format developed by Father Smolenski. Soon, they decided to make a deeper commitment, and with his guidance, they made their Corpus Christi oblations on Dec. 12, 2011.

Cretzmeyer still felt a growing call to dedicate her life to pray and sacrifice for priests, however.

“The Mass is the source and summit of our Christian life, so we need priests,” she said.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#923): “Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.”

By this solemn rite (Consecratio Virginum), the virgin is “constituted… a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.”

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone will consecrate Cretzmeyer on Aug. 15, the Mass of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at noon at St. Michael. All are welcome to attend.

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People & events


Catholic Night at The Joe
CHARLESTON—Father Greg West, pastor of St. Clare of Assisi Church on Daniel Island, will throw out the first pitch for Catholic Night at The Joe at the Charleston Riverdogs’ baseball game against the Hickory Crawdads on Aug. 11 at 7:05 p.m. Gates open at 6:05 p.m. Tickets are $7 for upper reserve seats along the first base line. To purchase visit: http://tinyurl.com/2014catholic.

40 Days for Life rally
CHARLESTON—40 Days for Life will hold an informational “Cast the Vision” rally on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament Church hall, 5 Saint Teresa Drive, to discuss the program and volunteering. Speakers will include Pastor Gordon Cashwell from Without Walls Ministries and Carrie Mc-Ginnes from the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center. Details: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Pro-life rosary at clinic
CHARLESTON—Deacon Mario Cardenas of Holy Spirit Church on Johns Island will lead a pro-life rosary and prayers Aug. 16 from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Charleston Women’s Medical Center, 1312 Ashley River Road. Call Stephen Boyle, (843) 763-0681.


Hillbillies concert
AIKEN—Single, Single Again will host a Hopelands Concert with the “Hillbillies in Training String Band” on Aug. 4 at 6:15 p.m. Parking available at Green Boundary, 780 Whiskey Road. Bring a picnic. On Aug. 15 at 6:30 p.m. they will go bowling at 2205 Whiskey Road. Cost: $9 for two games and shoes. RSVP by Aug. 12. Details: Carla Noziglia, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Karen Perry, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or Jeanne Shanks, (803) 663-3839.

Bioethics/life issues workshop
AIKEN—A workshop to clarify Catholic understanding of human dignity and moral discernment, and explain various end-of-life documents, will be held Aug. 16 from 9 a.m. to noon at St. Mary Help of Christians Church, 203 Park Ave. S.E. Register with S.C. Catholic Conference, Michael Acquilano, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (843) 853-2130 ext. 231.


Children’s consignment sale
SIMPSONVILLE—An Angel’s Attic consignment sale featuring children’s and maternity items will be July 31 and Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Aug. 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalene Church, 2252 Woodruff Road. Visit www.anangelsatticsale.org.

Yard sale
CLEMSON—St. Andrew Church will hold a yard sale Aug. 2 from 8 a.m. to noon in the parking lot, 209 Sloan St., to benefit the building fund.

Rachel’s Vineyard
GREENVILLE—Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats help acknowledge and work through unresolved feelings that individuals struggle with after abortion. The next retreat will be Aug. 15-17. For registration and questions, call (803) 554-6088 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

John Michael Talbot concert
SIMPSONVILLE—St. Mary Magdalene Church, 2252 Woodruff Road, will host a concert featuring John Michael Talbot, an author and host of “All Things are Possible,” on Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m. Cost: $20 adults, $18 seniors, $14 students. Details: (864) 288-4884, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit www.smmcc.org.

PEOPLE & EVENTS includes items of general interest and events that are open to the statewide community. To send a notice, please include time, date, location address, city and contact email and/or phone number with area code. Items are run at the editor’s discretion and publication or frequency is not guaranteed. Send notices at least three weeks in advance of publication date to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For details visit www.themiscellany.org and click on submit news.



Catholic presence felt at homeschool convention

COLUMBIA—Christopher and Laurie Tollefsen have educated all nine of their children at home.

The Tollefsens, members of St. Martin de Porres Church in Columbia, want other parents to know the joy and fulfillment that come with homeschooling, and especially want to reach out to other Catholics. They both led sessions at the Midlands Homeschool Conference at the Carolina Convention Center July 24-26. The event drew parents and vendors from across the Southeast who exchanged ideas, checked out a variety of teaching tools, and attended dozens of workshops on different home teaching techniques.

“Homeschooling gives you an opportunity to help your children develop in a way that is very personal to them and to your family,” Mr. Tollefsen told a small group who attended his workshop on “The Rights and Responsibilities of Homeschooling.”

“The family is a special kind of society, and I know our family community has really been strengthened through this experience. It helps the family to get to know each other better,” he said.

Mr. Tollefsen, who teaches philosophy at the University of South Carolina, said educating children is one of the main responsibilities of a parent. He believes home education is an important option to consider as public schools increasingly seem to operate on the theory that parents should “be walled off” from any decisions about what their child is exposed to in the classroom.

Mrs. Tollefsen led a session on “Making Homeschool YOUR Homeschool,” where she reminded parents that no two families will approach home education the same way, even though all will have to meet certain standards and teach the same subjects.

“Each marriage and each family is a unique entity, so each approach to schooling will be a little different,” she said. “What we have to focus on is that as homeschoolers, we have the responsibility not only for the full and complete intellectual development of our children, but their moral and spiritual education as well.”

It was the first time Catholic homeschoolers had their own exhibit at a statewide convention, said Jennifer Fitz, of Columbia, who helped set up the display. Visitors browsed a variety of textbooks, workbooks and other materials offered by Catholic companies like Kolbe Academy and Catholic Heritage, and picked up materials offering information on Catholic homeschool co-ops and support groups around the state.

The Tollefsens and other homeschooling parents said a variety of factors led them to teach their kids at home. Some wanted their children to have a Catholic education, but tuition costs at their parish schools led them to pursue the home option. Others felt home education offered their children a better chance to develop intellectually, to spend more time on special interests and integrate Catholic values in all subjects.

Gaby Hicks, of Columbia, considered homeschooling for her 4-year-old son after his years at a “Mom’s Day Out” and preschool program kept him away from home for long hours.

“I had a sense of grief about the way we were living our life … we were always rushed, late, frazzled and had very little quality time together,” she said. “We toyed with the idea of homeschooling after that and haven’t looked back.”

Hicks is not using one specific curriculum, but has selected a variety of workbooks, books and flash cards to help her son learn the basics of reading, math and religion. He will also be taking religious education classes at their church. She also plans to homeschool her other two children, who are 3 and 1.

“The main thing I want my children to get from this is a love of learning,” she said. “I want them to have an internal drive to chase their curiosity and interests that will last a lifetime. I worry that a conventional school setting can start to seem like a set of tasks for a child to complete, that it can stifle their natural imagination, creativity and curiosity.”

The parents were eager to debunk common myths about homeschooling, especially an idea that children taught at home won’t develop good social skills or learn to interact with other children.

Theresa Van Pilsum, who attends St. Joseph Church in Columbia, said her five children learn at home but also take part in a wide range of activities, from sports to music and dance classes.

“We’re not pulled in a million different directions,” she said. “We’re much more in control of our own schedule, and that’s brought a lot of peace to our family.”

Van Pilsum said parents just starting out shouldn’t expect to get everything right automatically, or to set up the perfect home classroom on their first try.

“Pray about it and do your homework,” she said. “Don’t feel intimidated or pressured. You can feel overwhelmed with all you have to accomplish, but as my husband said, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourselves and put your life in God’s hands and it will work out.”

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