Fr. Frank Palmieri, CRM

December 23, 2015 —On August 1, 2015 The Adorno Fathers opened a new Religious House in Sumter SC. The new house under the Name of “The Catholic Community of Sumter” was instituted by the Diocese of Charleston the 30th of May 2010 and formed by the former parishes of St. Anne and of St. Jude.
Both parishes residing in Sumter, a mile and half away from each other, have an illustrious past history.

The Catholic presence in Sumter could be traced to Bishop John England, the first bishop of Charleston. The Bishop came into the area of Statesburg, Sumterville (Later called Sumter), Camden and Cheraw, looking for Catholics to establish a catholic presence. Fr. Edward Quigley was assigned to minister the area and was followed by others. On June 2, 1939, Bishop England dedicated the Church of Our Lady of Assumption at Providence Plantation, in the Sumter district.

In 1848, the Catholic Community of Sumter purchased a small Methodist Church on West Liberty St. The Church and a cemetery were dedicated to St. Lawrence.

The Church was sold, the Cemetery was moved on West Oakland Ave and a new Church was built on 216 East Liberty. The new Church, in honor of St. Anne, was dedicated on May 21, 1911 by Bishop Henry Northrop and was solemnly consecrated in April 16, 1921. In April 1938, St. Anne celebrated the 100 anniversary of the Catholic Community’s presence in Sumter. In 1954, the Sisters of Charity of our Lady of Mercy opened the new St. Anne Catholic School.

Diocesan priests served Catholic Community. In September 1974 the Oblates of Mary Immaculate replaced the diocesan priests and in 1996 the Oblates left Sumter and were replaced by the Redemptorist Fathers, who served the parish up to August 1, 2015.

The origin of St. Jude dates back to 1939. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate established St. Jude mission on West Oakland Ave, one mile and a half away from St. Anne. The mission’s purpose was to serve the needs of the African American community.

The first building, erected on the parish ground

was the old rectory. The building still stands and holds the administrative offices. The original Church, also known as “Atkinson Hall”, was built in 1941. In 1948, they built the present church, the convent and the school. The same year saw the arrival of the sisters of St. Mary of Namur from Buffalo NY. They joined the OMI in the evangelization of the black community by taking care of the new St. Jude School. The first enrollment was 90 students. The students were all African American and none of them Catholic. Then came St. Jude High School and a boarding school for African American girls.

The grammar school, high school and boarding school are now closed but the effect of their

presence is still evident in the life of the community. Due to the proximity of the two churches and the lack of priests, the diocese decided to create one parish community, for now called: The Catholic Community of Sumter.

The Adorno Fathers accepted the invitation of Bishop Guglielmone and opened the Religious House on August 1, 2015.

Sumter has an old and colorful history stretching back more than 300 years. In 1740, the first English-speaking settlers arrived to establish roots along the banks of the Wateree River. The present-day Sumter County was established on Jan. 1, 1800.

The Catholic presence is 177 years. From the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Dalzell, to the present day, there has been an uninterrupted flow of Catholics. They have been part and parcel of the history of the city.

The two present Churches, even though close proximity to each other, have very different histories. St. Anne housed the white community, the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur took the difficult mission to serve the black community. Through the years, they maintained their identity, and eventually their rivalry. From 1974, they grew apart even though were served by the same religious community. There came a time that the Diocese wanted to merge the two communities and the two parishes. In 2010 both parishes were abolished and the “Catholic Community of Sumter” was born.

Through all this, the Catholic Community of Sumter has a long and strong Catholic tradition. The two communities are now working to find a common ground to begin a new page in their illustrious history. For the Adorno Fathers, there is a pride in being asked to lead them towards this goal and a tremendous responsibility in leading this proud community in the right direction. We ask everyone to pray for us.

We now have this proud community, formed by the merging of two illustrious churches. We have six Masses every weekend, three in each church. We changed the schedule of the Masses and the first Sunday we had the sum total of 36 parishioners attending our services … among other reasons there was the millennium flood. Weekly, we have a Holy Hour and then Novenas and the usual parish activities. The Community has ample space to meet the needs of both churches and activities intermingled between both locations. Life is interesting and we are full of hope that everything will turn to the dream of the diocese.