St Mary's History

Parish History

St. Mary's began with half dozen or so families and no resident priest nor Church building. A priest from our neighbor, St Anthony Parish in Florence, came twice a month to say Mass in Mrs. Perkins home.

September, 1940 saw the arrival of Father Louis Williamson as the first pastor. Under his leadership the first Catholic Church in Hartsville was built. The plans and building materials for the original church were purchased from a Sears Roebuck catalogue.

In 1944 a house on Pinewood Drive was purchased for the rectory. In 1945 The Holy Ghost Father opened St. Joseph Mission on Washington Street to service our black community. The next year a school was opened with a kindergarten. Each year another grade was added. Sister Adorers of the Most Precious Blood were the teachers. Our first graduates in 1955 were five girls and one boy. Sadly, the school was closed in 1967 and the building was used by Darlington Community Action Agency. The convent area housed the Head Start Program. Our last pastor, Fr. Joseph Lucey continued his ministry until he retired in 1980. A priest from St. Mary would say Mass in our chapel until 1988.

St. Mary's school was opened in 1950 with a kindergarten, first and second grades. The rectory was converted into a convent on the second floor to accommodate the teachers, the Notre Dame Sisters, while the first floor became classrooms. In 1952 a new school building was erected along Church Avenue.

For many years, St. Mary's met the educational needs of both the Catholic and Protestant sectors of the community. The children of many distinguished families attended St. Mary School, fostering ecumenism even before it became fashionable.

Fr. Williamson was given a piece of property on Main Street in Darlington and built a Mission Church in 1959--St. Joseph the Worker. This was Fr. Williamson’s last year as our pastor. Fr. Francis Murphy and Fr. Thomas Timlin succeeded him in the next year. Fr. John Adair was appointed in 1960.

In an article published in the 1963 Hartsville Challenge, a biannual publication written and published by Fr. Adair recalls that when he was appointed to Hartsville the Bishop told him that Hartsville was a “virtual gold mine”. Fr Adair used the Hartsville Challenge to let his “outside Angels” know what was going on in his little Church.

In the mid 1970’s, a major renovation was done on our Church. The Church had faced 5th Street but the new entrance was on Church Avenue. Also, the Little Franciscans of Mary took up residence in the convent. The side porch of their house was converted into another bedroom and bath. 

During this time the parish was served by a succession of Pastors, Frs. Condon. Mullen and Massad. The following pastor, Fr. Michael D’Antonio, was forced by the current financial demands to close the school.

In the early 1990's, the Parish council conducted a needs analysis. Parishioners were asked to determine specific areas for improvement. A list of suggestions were accepted: 1) improve parking 2) increase the size of the parish hall and modernize the kitchen, 3) increase the sanctuary and worship area and 4) modernize the offices and classrooms.

The school building was used for Masses until it, too, was demolished. Masses were then moved to the chapel of the Brown-Pennington- Atkins funeral home until construction was completed. The small stained glass windows which now adorn the 5th Street side of the church were salvaged from the original church and refurbished by the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers Georgia.

Additionally, St. Mary's neighbors offered to sell us their house--this house is now used as the rectory.

OUR PASTORS

Fr. Louis R. Williamson          1940-1959
Fr. Francis Murph                 1959-1960
Fr. Thomas Timlin                1960-1960
Fr. John B. Adair                  1960-1966
Fr. Richard Condon               1966-1968
Fr. Edward Mullen                1968-1970
Fr. Frederick Masad              1970-1974
Fr. Michael D'Antonio            1974-1980
Fr. Peter Clarke                   1980-1988
Fr. Bill Bleiler                      1988-1994
Fr. Gerald Ryfinski               1994-1998
Fr. William A. Maley             1998-2000
Fr. Karl Roesch                    2000-2016
Fr. Daniel Papineau              2016-

 

MISSION - VISION STATEMENT

St. Mary the Virgin Mother Parish, along with our Mission Church of St. Joseph the Worker, is a Roman Catholic Community dedicated to the holiness of its members by our prayer and good works.

The Sacraments are the core of our relationship with Jesus. Beginning with Baptism and continuing through the Sacrament of the Sick our lives are made holy. We are Confirmed in our Faith, Reconciled with God, fed by the Eucharist, blessed in our Marriage and strengthened by the Sacrament of the Sick.

Our prayer life as a parish is centered on our Eucharistic Celebration. This central event in our spiritual life recounts the very action of our Salvation. Within Mass we hear the Word of God and are nourished by His Body and Blood. It is the responsibility of the parish to provide all the Sacraments and especially the Eucharist on a regular basis.

Our entire parish family is encouraged to get involved in all our parish activities, local charities and our liturgy. Our good works bring us into a closer union with God.

Evangelization occurs from the moment a candidate come forth for Baptism and ends only with death. For a child the learning process begins in the home, followed by the Religious Education Program and Confirmation preparation. A youth program is followed by ongoing adult education. Adults preparing for Baptism, or anyone interested in our Faith, can enroll in the RCIA Program. For others, evangelization includes Small Group Discussions, Bible Study and periodic lectures. Parish social events help to bring the parish family together. To know God is to love Him, to know Him better is to love Him at a Higher level.

 

 

 

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