Greenville Parish Hosts Province’s Dr. King Commemoration

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Holy Name Province commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with music and motivating words at a Jan. 20 program called “Challenging the Dream” at St. Anthony of Padua Church here. 

The event, held on a cold, sunny afternoon, began with an invocation byPatrick Tuttle, OFM, pastor,  and concluded with remarks by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, who reflected on the well-known humor of Dr. King.

“Humor helped him and helps us take a good look at our world,” John said. “Through humor, we see that people have weakness. This helps us all.”

John said, ”I would ask that all of us think of our own lives and try to make Martin Luther King’s dream possible.”

Variety of Powerful Presenters
Dr. King’s ideas were presented by six performers and speakers:
? The Junior Voices of Padua sang several meaningful songs.
? The choir from St. Martin DePorres Church in Columbia, S.C., whose pastor is Paul Williams, OFM, also sang.
? A speech by Antoinette Goso-Haise, a a physical therapy specialist, who told listeners that, as a young African-American girl growing up in the south in the 1950s and  ‘60s, she “saw many things that baffled” her, such as separate water fountains for blacks and whites and segregated waiting rooms in doctors’ offices. She reminded people, “We are the only ones who can limit ourselves.”
? The St. Anthony’s youth group enacted a skit, “What Has Happened to the Dream?” Participating with the eight teens was professor James Williams from nearby Greenville Community Technical College.
? A poem by Brenda Brockman, “When We Were Black,” was read by a parishioner, eliciting many “amen’s.”  The poem described a period of healthier Black society in American than what many African-Americans experience now, Patrick said. She cited better family and work lives.
? A speech by Douglas Jones, an executive at Michelin Corp., and the first African-American to graduate from Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. He said, “We live in a great country, but many things are broken, such as the environment, our education, justice and healthcare systems, families, and also our churches. My challenge to you is to act as repairers of the breach.”

Parishioner Ruby King thanked the Provincial Minister for “spending this special day with us.”  Friars from nearby Anderson, S.C. — Aubrey McNeil, OFM, and Thaddeus Sappio, OFM – also attended the festivities.

The program concluded with a prayer by deacon Winston Wright, who was introduced by parishioner Debra Drennon, host for the afternoon.

Respect for Pastor and Parish

At a reception after the program in the adjacent St. Anthony Social Hall, parishioners enjoyed fellowship and food, and talked of their parish’s vibrant ministries.

“This church is different from others,” said youth ministry member Nikeemah Little, who said that she hoped the group’s skit provided insight into King. 

“Fr. Patrick has brought the youth group back to life,” said Jakari Brooks, who participated in the skit.

Parishioners also talked of the church’s many activities:
?  The JustFaith program whose members were meeting the evening of the MLK program.
?  A  Jan. 26 visit to Columbia, S.C., for the St. Martin DePorres Church Mardi Gras Ball.
?  The Souper Bowl of Caring on Feb. 3.
?  St. Anthony’s Parish Housing Coalition, which works with the Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (GAIHN) to preserve affordable housing in the city’s west end. The organization, which comprises 113 people, according to Patrick, converts houses to transitional homes for needy families. 

Patrick, who is a familiar face to many neighborhood residents, said he is “proud of how many partners are helping with this housing initiative.

“This is a justice issue,” he said.  “We are trying to stop the displacement of poor people to rural areas with no transportation to needed services.” 

Patrick, shown in photo, said that gentrification continues to make poor people flee the changing city. 

“We’re trying to stop this by helping low-income families move into renovated houses.

More information about this vibrant church, established nearly 70 years ago, and its school can be found on St. Anthony’s Web site.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of Communications for Holy Name Province.