Province Announces Withdrawal from South Carolina Parish

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

Aubrey McNeil, left, and Henry Fulmer, right,

Aubrey McNeil, left, pastor of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Anderson, and Henry Fulmer, right, parish life facilitator of St. Joseph Church. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Amic)

ANDERSON, S.C. — The Franciscan friars are leaving St. Joseph Church, a ministry they have served for the past five years.

Earlier this month, Henry Fulmer, OFM, parish life facilitator, read a letter to parishioners announcing that on May 22 the Franciscans will return the care of St. Joseph’s to the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., based on a recent staffing decision made by the diocese.

“It was five years ago that Bishop Robert Guglielmone asked our Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, for assistance in staffing St. Joseph Catholic Church and School because there was no priest available to serve as pastor,” Henry said. “Since that time, the Franciscans of the Most Holy Name of Jesus Province have enjoyed the privilege of serving here.

Ignatius Smith, who served as pastor of St. Joseph's from

Ignatius Smith, who served at St. Joseph’s from 2013 to 2015, including as pastor from 2013 to 2014. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Amic)

“Bishop Guglielmone recently advised the Franciscans that he now has a priest who he can appoint as resident pastor,” wrote Henry to the parishioners. “For that reason, the Franciscans will be returning the pastoral care of St. Joseph’s to the diocese and withdrawing from St. Joseph’s. We do so with sincere thanks to God for our time with you and with every best wish and promise of prayer for you and the parish and school in the days ahead.”

The Province began its administration of St. Joseph’s in 2011 when Paul Williams, OFM, was named pastor and Henry a deacon. Paul and Henry had served previously at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Columbia, roughly 100 miles to the southeast.

In 2014, Paul was assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Wilmington, Del. Two friars — Michael Jones, OFM, and Aubrey McNeil, OFM, who live at St. Mary of the Angels Parish, also in Anderson — have been serving St. Joseph’s as sacramental minsters.

Paul Williams, left, and Henry Fulmer, right.

Paul Williams, left, and Henry Fulmer, right.

The friars at St. Joseph were “united by a deep spirituality and a love of life and laughter,” according to a report about a “Meet the Friars” event published in HNP Today in 2014.

The Franciscans will be bid farewell at receptions next week at the Anderson parishes, said Henry — at St. Mary’s on May 20 and at  St. Joseph’s on May 21.

In addition to St. Mary of the Angels, which the Province has staffed since 1943, Holy Name friars are stationed at two other South Carolina parishes: St. Andrew’s in Clemson and St. Anthony of Padua in Greenville.

The history of the Franciscans in the northwest region of South Carolina can be found in an exhibit at the Anderson County Museum through June.

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

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