ANDERSON, S.C.-In the mid-1990s, David Hyman noticed that many Hispanics from Central and South America were in Anderson to stay, and the Protestant churches were hiring Spanish-speaking ministers. The largest numbers were Mexican and undocumented. David worked for two years with the parish council and the whole community so that they could own and participate in this new outreach. John C. Coughlin‘s arrival in 2000 for his internship year provided the opportunity to begin this ministry in earnest.
“John provided an enthusiastic leadership that got the ministry off the ground. He started passing out fliers at the shops, restaurants and a large Saturday flea market, advertising that St. Mary’s was starting a Spanish Mass. At the first Mass, there were 50 people. David presided at the Mass, and John prepared and gave the homily,” writes current pastor Aubrey McNeill. In the five years since, the Hispanic community has grown and now outnumbers the African-American community, with two Spanish Masses every weekend.
David was able to engage Sister Guadalupe for two years to continue the Hispanic ministry when John returned to Holy Name College. Currently Teresa Volante, a lay woman graduate of the WTU, is the director of Hispanic ministry at St. Mary’s.
“The Spanish-speaking community continues to grow and it is stable. They are active and seem to fit in well with the other two components of the community,” Aubrey reports.
St. Mary’s has been able to welcome and incorporate a new community, different in culture and language, forging a new multi-cultural, multi-racial identity, all within seven years.