In many ways, the history of the parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Folly Beach, is a story of service. For nearly 70 years, the faithful of this community on the “Edge of America” has drawn strength from the generous service of scores of dedicated priests. In turn, the members of the parish have grown to embrace the community, providing a wide variety of services.

As early as 1937, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered at Folly Beach. During the summer months of 1937-1938 the dining room of the Elk's Club Home at 1808 E. Atlantic Ave. became the setting for the Eucharistic Celebration offered by Father J. Edmund Burke, Assistant Curate at the Parish of St. Patrick in peninsular Charleston. Mass continued to be celebrated at the Elk's Home in the Ballroom during the summers of 1939 and 1940 by Father William G. Doyle, Assistant Curate at St. Mary's Parish in Charleston. The building was destroyed by a hurricane in August of 1940.

From 1940 to 1942, the stage of the famed Folly Pavilion at the foot of Center Street, home to the popular dance bands of the time, was used to celebrate Sunday Mass by Father Doyle and by Father Denis Lonigan, Assistant Curate at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. In 1943, the old Community Center which stood across the street from the site of our present church, and which has since been razed, was used for Mass by Father Alfred J. Laube, SMA and Father J. William Goldsmith, Assistant at St. Joseph's Parish, Charleston, and by other priests of the diocese. The Folly Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1975.

In 1944 Father John J. McCarthy was made pastor of the canonical parish of the Blessed Sacrament, which included Folly Beach. Father John Nedley, C. O., assistant to Father McCarthy, offered Mass at the Coast Guard Radar Station. Father McCarthy was named auxiliary chaplain to the Military Ordinariate in 1945.
Efforts to build a church at Folly Beach began in 1947 with the purchase of a lot on Center Street, Lot 48, from the Charleston Oil Company for $1000 on July 14th. On October 5, 1948, a second lot, Lot 46 was purchased from Leona M. Packard of Charleston County for $2000. Construction of the church began in 1949 and the First Mass was celebrated in the present Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel on Christmas Day in 1950. The church was “debt free” on January 4, 1951.

From 1945-1958 the Folly Beach community continued to grow and assistant priests from Blessed Sacrament Parish served the Catholic population. Among these priests were the following: The Reverends: John Nedley, C.O., Roy Aiken, William J. Croghan, Francis X. Winum, J. William Goldsmith, Peter K. Berberick, Dennis J. McKevlin, Fredrick J. Hopwood, Charles J. Molony, Edward J. Murphy, Lawrence E. Mahany, Earnest E. Kennedy, John J. Eyckmann and Robert J. Kelly.

From being a mission of Blessed Sacrament parish, Our Lady of Good Counsel became a mission of Nativity Parish in 1959 where Father Theodore T. Cilwick was pastor.  Then, from 1967 until 1978 it was a mission of Holy Spirit on Johns Island.  Fathers John A. Simonin, Edward C. Tobias, James A. Carter and Pierce O'Conell, S.T., were pastors at Holy Spirit.  Fathers Edward F. Mullen, Thomas D. Timlin, C. Lawrence Sheedy, Michael E. Kaney, and Fredrick F. Masad served as assistant priests at Holy Spirit.  All these priests offered Holy Mass for the members of Our Lady of Good Counsel mission.  

From being a mission of Blessed Sacrament parish, Our Lady of Good Counsel became a mission of Nativity Parish in 1959 where Father Theodore T. Cilwick was pastor. Then, from 1967 until 1978 it was a mission of Holy Spirit on Johns Island. Fathers John A. Simonin, Edward C. Tobias, James A. Carter and Pierce O'Conell, S.T., were pastors at Holy Spirit. Fathers Edward F. Mullen, Thomas D. Timlin, C. Lawrence Sheedy, Michael E. Kaney, and Fredrick F. Masad served as assistant priests at Holy Spirit. All these priests offered Holy Mass for the members of Our Lady of Good Counsel mission.

In 1978 Father Robert J. Kelly, became pastor of the Church of the Nativity and until 1985 he cared for Our Lady of Good Counsel as a mission of Nativity. Our Lady of Good Counsel remained a mission of Nativity when Father Joseph C. Maher was appointed pastor in June 1985. Assistants/Parochial Vicars from Nativity served Our Lady of Good Counsel. Among these priests were the following: Reverends Joseph G. Bean, W. James Nyhan, John P. Coffey, Thomas E. Donnelly, Gabriel J. Smith, Edward T. Morley, OSCO and Francis L. Desa.

The property at 103 West Huron, which would serve as the first rectory, was purchased from Dorothy H. Dukes for $30,000. The first priest to have a residence on the beach, Father Edward F. Mullen, was appointed to Our Lady of Good Counsel on June 1, 1988.

Just after his first anniversary with this mission parish, a category four hurricane named Hugo struck the coastal area of South Carolina, causing over $7 billion in damage. The church building at Folly Beach suffered damage to the roof, the flashing, and window coverings. The trees on the property were destroyed; septic tanks in both the church and the rectory were destroyed. The diocese provided assistance for the cost of the repairs. Later, Father Mullen was responsible for the installation of the clarion bells, which call the island faithful to prayer each week. In 1990, together with Bishop David B. Thompson and seven area priests, Father Mullen con-celebrated a Mass commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the parish. A reception hosted by the women of the parish was held at the Folly Beach Community Center. Father Mullen remained with Our Lady of Good Counsel until he retired in 1992.

After Father Mullen's retirement, the mission was again under the care of Nativity parish priests including Father Dan Valino.

In August of 1993, Father Ronald R. Cellini was appointed administrator of the mission parish while retaining his academic duties at Bishop England High School. Under Father Cellini's administration, property at 106 West Erie Street, which included a residence suitable for a rectory, was purchased as well as the adjacent property facing Hudson Street, which would become the parish hall. Father Cellini was instrumental in bringing together a number of gifted parishioners who would embark on the implementation of Diocesan Synod goals for the parish, including the establishment of a parish school of religion for pre-school through second graders.

Father Cellini foresaw the rapid growth of the parish--from 44 registered families in 1993 to over 350 in 2006. In 1995 Father Cellini appointed Jim Steffel to direct the construction of the parish hall, and at the first parish committee meeting held in the new hall, January 1996, Father Cellini announced his transfer and the arrival of Monsignor Robert J. Kelly.

Monsignor Robert J. Kelly returned to the mission parish on Folly Beach in 1996 and continued to minister to the people here until his death on September 6, 2004. Gifted with infectious good humor, Father Kelly, as he preferred to be addressed, was beloved by generations of Charlestonians. He drew many visitors to the parish, taking care to recognize them at every Sunday Mass. Under his leadership, the parish school of religion grew to serve children through the eighth grade. The first group of Confirmandi received the Sacrament of Confirmation, administered by Bishop Robert Baker on April 13, 2000. An adult formation group began a weekly Bible Study. And the new church hall was abuzz with activity. Father Kelly celebrated the 50th anniversary of Our Lady of Good Counsel church on November 11, 2000. In typical style, he reflected on the many priests who nurtured the faith and the “wonderful people who proudly embraced Our Lady of Good Counsel as their grace-filled home.”

An act of Providence drew Father Henry Kulah to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Father Kelly was suffering the effects of a serious illness and had asked the Diocese to request a replacement, until he would be feeling better. While the arrangements for some priestly assistance in the Myrtle Beach area had been made much earlier, the immediate need on Folly Beach coincided with Father Kulah's arrival in America. In November 2002, Father Henry, as he asked to be called, came to Our Lady of Good Counsel from the Diocese of Wa in Northern Ghana. His broad smile and warm personality coupled with meaningful homilies quickly endeared him to the parish. It had been many years since the people of Our Lady of Good Counsel experienced the melodious tones of an unfamiliar accent and a deeper appreciation for a distant culture. Father Kulah was permitted to remain at Folly Beach for eight months, before continuing his journey to serve as parochial vicar for St. Andrews Church, Myrtle Beach.

Although Father Kelly remained a presence in the parish until his death in September 2004, his illness made him too weak to conduct the daily activities. For the next few months our parish was served by a number of diocesan priests including Monsignors Thomas X. Hofmann and Fleming McManus.

In 2003, another visiting priest, Father Tomasaiah Reddimasu of the Diocese of Warangal, in southeastern India, blessed the people of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Father Thomas, as he preferred to be called, stepped in to help and continued to minister to the parish until 2006. His chief aim was to increase the spiritiual participation of the laity in the church, beginning with an active liturgy committee, increased training for a larger group of Lectors and Eucharistic ministers, and a number of extra-liturgical events, such as the familiy rosaries prayed in homes during May and October. His sense of humor and gift for singing were memorable contributions to the Mass. On Christmas and Easter, parishioners were treated to traditional folk songs in his native Telgu language.

Father Thomas was a great supporter of the social life of the parish as well, encouraging the use of the parish hall for parish familty dinners and the Lenten soup nights. He brought the parish together for a family picnic, and arranged a major clean up day for the church, rectory and hall, before he returned to India.

No longer a mission church, Our Lady of Good Counsel was named a parish in June 2006 and celebrated the installation of Monsignor Charles H. Rowland, PA, JCL as pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel. A native Charlestonian, Msgr. Rowland brought a wealth of experience to our parish and a deep understanding of the history of the Catholic community here. A natural teacher, his homilies demonstrated an appreciation for the deep roots of the Christian faith and an understanding of the customs and culture of the times of Jesus Christ and the early church. However, the needs of the diocese required that Monsignor Rowland be re-assigned just seven months later.

The parish was then briefly under the direction of an Administrator. Father Jacob P. Joseph, CMI from Kerala India (by way of Hartsdale NY) quickly endeared himself to the parish family before he was re-assigned. In July 2007 Father Sylvanus Udoidem a Nigerian priest, who was serving in the Charleston diocese until the end of his sabbatical, was assigned to the parish. He was with us until April 2008. Father Sylvanus brought a wealth of experience as a scholar and a pastor to his role as Administrator.

The Rev. James Orumpakatt, CMI, who formerly served as parochial vicar at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, was appointed Pastoral Administrator to OLGC in May, 2008. A priest of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, Father Orumpakatt was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 1, 1964, and served in numerous assignments in India and the United States. In 2005, he accepted an assignment as pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Blythwood, S.C., in the Diocese of Charleston. Unfortunately, his work at OLGC was cut short because of medical treatment. However, in his first two weeks, he made an indelible imprint on those who met with him. He died January 19, 2009 in India.


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