South Carolina Parish Busy with Three Initiatives

Rebecca Doel Features

GREENVILLE, S.C. — St. Anthony of Padua Church here is a welcome presence in the community, with a school boasting a near-perfect graduation rate for black students and parishioners who build houses and raise money for the poor and homeless.

The parish will begin fundraising for a new school and gymnasium in the new year, according to Patrick Tuttle, OFM, pastor. He said the staff and parish are especially proud of three current events: approval to build a new school, a walk for the homeless and growth of a housing initiative.

Replacing a 60-Year-Old School
Patrick said St. Anthony’s recently received approval fromCharleston, S.C., Bishop Robert Guglielmone to begin construction of a building that will replace the existing 60-year-old mission school. He said the community will start fundraising in January 2010 and aims to complete the $4 million project by early 2012.

“The school has become the darling of the Greenville community,” Patrick said. He attributes this to St. Anthony’s 98 percent graduation rate of black students compared to a 48 percent graduation rate from city schools.

Patrick said this reputation likely also helped the school raise $111,000 in one evening at its annual fundraiser in July. He said a similar event in 2008 raised $60,000. This summer, the school received publicity from local television show Your Carolina, which invited Patrick, St. Anthony’s staff member Mary Corner and the school’s director of funding Joseph Vilardo to speak on two occasions about the International Festival.

The existing school will be used for various meetings, Patrick said.

Walking to Help the Poor
In the spirit of ecumenism and friendly competition, St. Anthony Church and Bumcombe Street United Methodist Church in Greenville challenged each other to see which community could raise more money and attract more participants for United Ministries’ 20th annual Walk for the Homeless on Oct. 18.

The 3,000-parishioner Bumcombe UMC was confident it would easily out-participate and out-fundraise St. Anthony’s, which has 1,300 parishioners.

However, said Patrick, “Small but mighty St. Anthony’s not only brought more than 150 more walkers, the parish more than doubled Buncombe’s gift of $7,000.” St. Anthony’s parishioners raised $16,800 for the walk that benefits Place of Hope, a shelter operated by United Ministries.

Patrick said St. Anthony’s partners with United Ministries to provide food, dentures, utility bill and eviction relief, counseling and housing. United Ministries provides shelter, showers and career counseling for Greenville’s poor and homeless, Patrick added.

Building Homes for the Homeless
In an ongoing effort to provide transitional and semi-permanent housing to those in need in the community of Greenville, St. Anthony’s continues to obtain homes in need of rehabilitation as donation money is acquired. This November, St. Anthony’s Housing Initiative will complete two more houses, bringing to six the total of homes renovated since the program began in 2006.

“These houses serve the very poor of the west end of our Greenville area,” Patrick said. He added that he prefers this method of small community groups “taking responsibility for the homes and tenants, so neighborhoods are not changed or left to go fallow.” 

The homes slated for completion in the coming month will provide permanent housing for two families. Patrick said two of the previously renovated homes provide transitional, one-year housing by partnering with Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (GAIHN).

 Rebecca Doel, communications coordinator for Holy Name Province, reminds readers that a photo of Patrick Tuttle inside the original “Promise House” of St. Anthony’s Housing Initiative appears as one of the rotating photos on the home page of