Nine Francis Medal Recipients Honored in South Carolina

Maria Hayes Around the Province

ANDERSON, S.C. — St. Joseph Parish is blessed with a community of dedicated partners-in-ministry who display Franciscan virtues. Nine laypeople were honored for their service to the parish during the confirmation Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, S.C., on June 18.

Thaddeus and Dot Bismack have cared for the sick and homebound in Anderson for many years. “Each week, they reverently carry the Holy Eucharist to those unable to attended church,” said pastor Ignatius Smith, OFM. “They visit, spend time with and befriend the lonely and forgotten. This quiet and unassuming couple lives daily the Franciscan virtue of love.”

Darcy and Keith Crenshaw are well known to the youth of the parish as directors of the religious education program and Catholic Youth Organization. “The Franciscan ideal of nourishing a deeper faith and love in our youth is their dedicated vocation in life,” Ignatius said.

Throughout her 81 years of life, Ann Friend has been a member of St. Joseph’s. A great supporter of parish and community activities, she gives of her time and talents to all in need in her own quiet way. “Ms. Friend has touched many lives, both Catholic and non-Catholic,” said Ignatius. “She has been faithful to her Catholic faith in difficult times and surroundings. Ms. Friend has demonstrated with her life the Franciscan virtue of perseverance.”

Rosemary Gregory is involved in many aspects of parish life. She is the organizer and motivator of the “Hill Toppers,” the parish’s senior citizen group that meets for lunch and entertainment once a month. She invites those who are lonely and lacking friends to become an active member of the Hill Toppers. Gregory also serves as a eucharistic minister, teaches religious education and is involved in the pro-life movement. “Mrs. Gregory personifies the Franciscan virtue of generosity,” Ignatius said.

Longtime parishioners Frank and Delores Surdyka have spent their retirement caring for the poor and hungry of the Anderson community. Each week, they transport food to the food bank and are members of the board. “They are most generous in giving of their time and expertise to the parish and this community,” Ignatius said. “The Franciscan virtue of generosity is demonstrated in their lives.”

Since 1967, St. Joseph Catholic School has taught the faith to the youth in the community. The school’s “great reputation” is due to its teachers and Mary Ann Wheeler, principal for the last 13 years, whom Ignatius calls “an outstanding Catholic educator.” “Mrs. Wheeler is a dedicated Catholic who leads by love and example,” he said. “Day-to-day operations and unexpected difficulties are handled with Catholic principles and commitment. Mrs. Wheeler lives the Franciscan value of Christian instruction.”

The friars of Holy Name Province have staffed St. Joseph Parish since 2011.

Holy Name Province’s Francis Medal was established in 1998 by then-Provincial Minister John Felice, OFM. Recipients are people who have displayed an uncommon contribution to the advancement of the ideals and values of St. Francis.

Last month, the medal was also presented to five partners-in-ministry at St. Francis Parish in Triangle, Va.

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province. Pictured in the above photo are Henry Fulmer, OFM, Ann Friend, Thaddeus and Dot Bismack, Ignatius Smith, OFM, Frank Surdyka, John Aherne, OFM,Rosemary Gregory, Keith and Darcy Crenshaw, Aubrey McNeil, OFM, and Marianne Wheeler. Not pictured is Dolores Surdyka.