Our Story

Humble Beginnings

In 1984, Bishop Unterkoefler purchased a tract of land consisting of 13 acres on Woodruff Road about one mile from Highway 14. Later that year, the Bishop contacted Fr. Coughlin, Pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, to explore where Sunday liturgy could be celebrated in the interim, before a new church was built.

Fr. Coughlin held monthly meetings to attract those Catholics interested in starting up a Mission Church in the Simpsonville/Mauldin area.  A small driving committee formed in December, 1984.  Through Fr. Coughlin’s leadership, encompassing over 5 years, Maxwell Point Catholic Community, a mission of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, formed in 1985.  In January, 1986, Bishop Unterkoefler appointed Fr. Coughlin Pastor of Maxwell Point Catholic Community, in addition to serving as Pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. 

Ebeneezer Methodist Church on Batesville Rd. rented space out to our Mission Church so that Mass could be celebrated.  On Feb. 1, 1986, Fr. Droze, a newly ordained priest, and Parochial Vicar, said the inaugural Mass.  Religious Education classes began in 1986 with twelve children in the program.

Starting June 1987, Fr. Duane Riplog assisted our mission for one year. Fr. Paul O'Toole was with us from August 1988 until his death in May 1989. Fr. Fred Fox arrived two months later, and in August 1990 was assigned to Prince of Peace in Taylors. Fr. Nicholas Bayard, then Pastor of Blessed Trinity in Greer, celebrated two weekend Masses until February of 1991.

The Mission Church formed into a close-knit, supportive community that grew and flourished.  When it expanded to 55 families, it became time to build a church.  A building committee formed in October 1987.  The Bishop required that the building funds be raised prior to building. 

The very first pledge drive for our building was initiated in March of 1989.  In fact 100 families raised $250,000, half the necessary funding to build, a remarkable feat for a small group.

Shortly before Christmas of 1989, we were officially named St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. Groundbreaking was celebrated on July 22, 1990, on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene. Construction began the following month.  Two months before our new church was completed, the Most Reverend David B. Thompson, Bishop of Charleston appointed Fr. Herbert K. Conner, SJ. as our first Pastor.

Our first church, now serving as the Parish Center, was completed in May 1991, and dedicated on September 15, 1991.  It was designed to seat 300 people, but it was not long before the growing number of parishioners outgrew the space.  In fact, the number of parish families totaled close to 500 in 1992.

During 1994, a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel began, located within the original church building.  St. Mary Magdalene was the 3rd church in the state to start this type of spiritual worship. The consecrated host is exposed 24 hours a day for all to visit anytime day or night.  Today the Adoration Chapel is attached to the current church, with a separate and secured entrance.

Long-Range planning for new building construction began in 1993, less than 2 years after the first church (now the Parish Center) was dedicated.  By the time architectural plans were submitted to the Diocese early in 1996, parish families numbered 775, with 300 children enrolled in religious education classes.  In addition, 15 different ministries served the church community.  Meeting space was so tight that two trailers were brought in temporarily so that ministry groups and religious education classes could continue to meet.  Construction on the current church began in 1997.  The church opened its doors for the first time in April, 1998, for the Easter Sunday service.  This first phase of the new church seated 600 people, and cost $2 million.  Parish families now numbered 1000.

As the debt was paid off on the new church, the next building phase began in 2002.  During that year, a groundbreaking ceremony was held.  The Conner Ministry Building was completed in November of 2002.  The church expansion followed in 2003, and provided a seating capacity for 1200 people.  These two new structures provide space for religious education programs, ministry meetings for 70+ ministries, fundraiser events, and the Child Development Center.

Fr. Robert Falabella joined Fr. Conner in serving the Parish pastoral needs as "priest in residence" in 2002. He celebrating his 50th anniversary to the priesthood in 2011. Father Robert is enjoying retirement here with us at St. Mary Magdalene and serving the needs of the parish on a part-time basis.

Fr. Hayden Vavarek served as Administrator during the first half of 2008.  That same year, on August 30, 2008, Fr. Conner returned to be with our Lord.  We thank God for his 17 years of faithful leadership.

We were blessed to receive Fr. Teofilo Trujillo and Fr. Jim Dubrouillet who were named Pastor and our first Parochial Vicar on November 3, 2008. Father Jim was re-assigned to St. Andrew the Apostle in Barnwell, SC in 2010. As our church family continued to grow, in 2010 we were blessed to have been assigned two Parochial Vicars, Fathers Philip Gillespie and Dan Papineau, to serve the pastoral and faith needs of the Parish until their reassignments in 2012 to other Diocesan parishes.

Fr. Filip Wodecki (newly ordained) and Fr. Joe Romanoski joined St. Mary Magdalene as Parochial Vicars in 2012 until their reassignments. We welcomed our current Parochial Vicars -- Fr. Mike Boyle in 2013 and Fr. David A. Runnion in 2014 -- Fr. Robert remains a priest in residence. Along with Fr. Theo, these three priests are kept quite busy serving our ever-expanding parish.

Presently our church offers 7 weekend Masses (2 in Spanish) and monthly Polish and Filipino Masses.  With the purchase of neighboring properties in 2009 and 2013, our campus now encompasses 22.8 acres. With over 5,000 in weekly attendance, St. Mary Magdalene has been one of the fastest growing churches in the Diocese – Called by Christ, Growing in Faith, Serving with Love.

 

 
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