The deaneries, geographical parish groupings, in the Diocese of Charleston are getting an overhaul.
After careful consideration and planning, the original five deaneries have been adjusted to create seven, with the two additions being carved into the Aiken and Rock Hill areas.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who recently approved the proposal as recommended by the Presbyteral Council, said the new regions were created “to make it more reasonable in terms of the deanery people being able to get together.”
“We’re hoping for a sense of unity for the people in those areas,” the bishop said.
The Midlands, especially, had grown too large in terms of time spent on the road for priests, deacons and other personnel as they traveled back and forth to meetings.
Lydia Doyle, director of the diocesan office of research and planning, said the suggestion to break up the deaneries was actually made several years ago by an outside task force, which noted that smaller areas can increase cohesion and collaboration.
The diocese had looked at different options, including an eight-deanery plan, but said the seven regions received a large majority of support.
The realignment will also change the names of the deaneries. Instead of Piedmont, Midlands, Lowcountry, Coastal and Pee Dee, the names will reflect the center-most city in each region: Greenville, Columbia, Aiken, Beaufort, Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Rock Hill.
Churches that will be in the new Rock Hill Deanery include All Saints, Divine Saviour, St. Philip Neri, St. Anne and St. Mary in York County; St. Joseph Church and St. Michael Mission in Chester; and St. Catherine Church and Our Lady of Grace Mission in Lancaster.
Churches in the new Aiken Deanery include Sacred Heart in Abbeville; Our Lady of Lourdes in Greenwood; Good Shepherd in McCormick; St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception and St. Edward in Edgefield; Our Lady of the Valley, Our Lady of Peace, St. Mary Help of Christians and St. Gerard in Aiken County; and St. Andrew in Barnwell.
The alignment goes into effect on Easter, April 5.
Bishop Guglielmone has appointed interim deans who will serve from Easter until the end of 2015. They are Father Robert Sayer for the Aiken Deanery and Father Fabio Refosco for the Rock Hill Deanery. At the end of 2015, permanent deans will be elected in all the deaneries.
Below is a map of the new deanery boundaries with church and school locations marked. Click the image to enlarge.
Below is a comparison of the old and new deanery divisions. Click the image to enlarge.