Lay Catholics Launch New ‘Veritas Catholic Information Center’ to Spread the Faith in South Carolina
Veritas Catholic Information Center Will Attract Catholics and People of All Faiths
Main Street in downtown Greenville is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. Located in the scenic Upstate region of South Carolina, Greenville is a vibrant and rapidly growing city. Friends and families gather in sidewalk cafes along the tree-lined street, then pop into the unique shops and galleries or hop across the rocks to experience the cascading waterfall at Falls Park, in the city’s center.
And soon, the busy downtown neighborhood will boast one more attraction: a Catholic center offering lectures, films, book signings, prayer groups and more.
A group of Catholic lay leaders has launched an ambitious project to open a spiritual oasis along the busy street. The Veritas Catholic Information Center, as it is called now during its planning phase, will be a place of welcome for Catholics, members of other Christian faiths, Jews and Muslims and people of no faith.
The mission of the Center is “to promote the beauty, truth and fullness of the Catholic faith in order to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to ‘Go and Make Disciples of All Nations.’”
While some who are not currently churchgoers may be intimidated at the thought of entering a church, the Veritas Catholic Information Center organizers hope that their venue will be a non-threatening and welcoming environment — a place where visitors can raise questions and engage in conversation with trained volunteers, while feeling no pressure to join. The Center will offer a rich assortment of lectures, book launches and book signings, entertainment, prayer services and more. Also available will be literature and tracts that explain the Catholic faith, as well as Bibles and other books, religious art, and devotional items such as rosaries, prayer cards and medals.
The Center is not under the direction of the diocese or any individual parish. Its founders are lay Catholics in full communion with the Church, who represent many different parishes and organizations.
South Carolina and other Southern states claim a high population of believers, but most are not Catholic. In fact, a recent Pew Forum report on the religious landscape in South Carolina listed 78% of the state’s population as Christian, but only 10% Catholic.
Bishop Robert Guglielmone, bishop of Charleston, has offered his enthusiastic support for the concept of a Catholic center in Greenville. At an inaugural event Aug. 26 which brought together more than 150 supporters including local pastors, priests, deacons, and “parish captains” from throughout the greater Greenville area, Bishop Guglielmone spoke of it as not just a “Catholic Information Center” but also a “Catholic Invitation Center” — a place where all are invited to learn more about the Faith.
“St. Augustine,” Bishop Guglielmone said, “talked about that God-shaped hole in our hearts that only God can fill.” He cited the directive of the Second Vatican Council, which challenged the laity to “bring the Church into the marketplace.” The Catholic Information Center, he believed, will do exactly that — extending “an invitation for people to allow Jesus Christ to come into their hearts, to fulfill what every human being really wants.”
Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Greenville and Dean of the Piedmont Deanery, offered an opening prayer and shared his insights. He noted that there are three ways of evangelizing — goodness, truth and beauty — and that the new Catholic Information Center will employ each of these powerful tools to reach out to the world.
Catholic writer and teacher Joseph Pearce, who has written several biographies of Catholic classical writers, spoke as well, and he returned to that threefold means of evangelization. He warned, though, that we live in an age when for many people, “truth” is whatever you want it to be. It’s very difficult, in such an age, to reason with people who no longer believe in reason. Despite the limitations of contemporary American culture, Pearce believed, holiness still speaks — even more in a culture which is decadent. And God’s creation, in all its beauty, is in itself a great evangelizer. This beauty and truth, Pearce said, is what the Catholic Information Center will bring to Greenville.
The organizers of Veritas Catholic Information Center have a lot of work to do before the Center begins operation in 2023. A suitable location must be identified, and plans made for staffing, stocking shelves and arranging space for prayer and programming. The project is ambitious, and the focus in this early stage is on raising the needed funds to open and operate the Center in downtown Greenville. Readers can learn more about the Veritas Catholic Information Center, and can volunteer or offer support for the project in its inaugural months, at its newly established website, VeritasCIC.info.