MCCORMICK—In one sense, Catholics in much of McCormick County have spent the past 45 years serving God from a hand-me-down.
In 1964, Pope Paul VI was steering the Second Vatican Council toward completion and the United States was about to step deeper into the Vietnam War. At the same time, a small group of Catholics began what would become four-plus decades of Mass celebrations in a building that once served parishioners in the next county.
The old building, completed in 1926, was formerly Our Lady of Lourdes in Greenwood. It was literally moved over 30 miles along two-lane country roads to McCormick, where it was rededicated by Bishop Francis F. Reh as The Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd.
On Jan. 14, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone was in McCormick to dedicate a brand new Church of the Good Shepherd.
The building sits on the same 18 acres off U.S. 221 that Bishop Reh purchased in 1963. Prior to that purchase and the subsequent relocation of the old church, Catholics in the McCormick area attended services in each other’s homes or traveled to the nearest Catholic Church.
In his homily, Bishop Guglielmone praised those early McCormick County faithful, and those who raised more than $620,000 in three years to build the new church.
“You can’t help but think of all that has happened here in McCormick to make this event occur,” Bishop Guglielmone said.
At the same time, he said, he and the parishioners of Good Shepherd are certainly looking forward “to all of the good things that will happen in this beautiful place in the days ahead.
“That is what makes this place so special for us,” the bishop said. “Yes, it is beautiful and yes, it is a day of great rejoicing. But it can also be a place where peoples’ lives can be changed.”
This was the first church the bishop has dedicated.
During his homily he noted good things have already taken place inside the new church with Advent and Christmas celebrated there this past year.
The Mass was concelebrated by Father Richard D. Harris, vicar general of the Diocese of Charleston and pastor of St. Joseph Church in Columbia; Father Allam Marreddy, administrator of Good Shepherd; and several other priests.
Father Marreddy praised church members for their hard work.
“I’m so proud and excited to be the pastor and administrator of this church,” he said following the ceremony.
The priest will celebrate his eighth year at Good Shepherd this spring. He said he drew from his experience in his home country of India to see the building project through to completion.
“When I was in India, I worked with the people and among the people,” he said.
Much of the volunteer work was taken on by residents of Savannah Lakes Village, a lakeside community near McCormick that has become home to a number of retirees, many of whom are Catholic.
Jerry Wishall and his wife Barbara moved to the area from Virginia in 2001. He said the new building “was the culmination of a lot of work and a lot of love and cooperation.”
Parishioners gave their time and talent in painting, flooring and carpeting the new church, Wishall said, with one church member building the altar.
“That saved us a lot of money,” said Wishall, who served on the building committee and is on the parish council.
Terry O’Reilly, who chaired the building committee, said several contractors told him they were impressed with the number of volunteers — around a third of the church membership — and with the quality of the work they completed.
The parish plans to convert the old church building into a rectory.