Good Shepherd Catholic Church – A History
The history of Good Shepherd Catholic Church can be traced back to 1964, but the origins of the Catholic population in McCormick county dates back to the late 1800s when the first Catholics, ancestors of the McGrath family, arrived from County Cork in Ireland. From that time until the early 1900s, the congregation grew to about 40 members, and they held services in each other’s homes or attended services at other churches in the region.
Fast forward to the 1960s when the congregation, which had grown in size, began lobbying the Diocese of Charleston for a church in McCormick. It soon became apparent that no property was available for a Catholic church within the McCormick town limits. In February 1963, Bishop Francis F. Reh purchased the present property, approximately 18 acres, on Hwy. 221 from P.P. Deason.
At about the same time, Our Lady of Lourdes parish was building a new church on Laurel St., in Greenwood. It was decided that the old church, built in 1926, would serve the needs of the Catholic community in McCormick, and Bishop Reh approved moving it to its present site.
Moving the church was a painstaking project that took several days. It was uprooted from its location in Greenwood, towed over 30 miles of back roads to McCormick County, and eased it onto the site where it stands today. Along the way, workers temporarily relocated utility lines extending over roadways to allow for the height of the church as it passed. Once it reached the Hwy. 221 site, several large trees had to be taken down to allow the church to be moved to the top of the knoll. After overcoming a few other obstacles, workers permanently secured the church on the site and the exterior was redecorated with brick veneer.
At long last McCormick County Catholics finally had a church of their own and, on March 19, 1964, Bishop Reh and the new pastor, Fr. Henry J. Burke, rededicated the former Our Lady of Lourdes Church as The Church of the Good Shepherd.
Over the years, the parish has witnessed steady growth, especially since the development of Savannah Lakes Village and, within 30 years of the church’s dedication, the congregation numbered 100 families. Today, the membership has grown to more than 160 families.
In 2006, Father Allam Marreddy, Good Shepherd’s administrator, recognized that the 82-year old church was showing its age and was too small to accommodate parishioners and visitors who attend Mass while vacationing in the area. He appointed a Needs Assessment Committee to investigate options for renovating and enlarging the church. After several months of study, the Committee recommended that a new church would be the most cost-effective choice for serving the parish now and well into the future, and Father Marreddy and the Pastoral Council agreed.
Bishop Robert Baker gave his permission for the parish to conduct a $500,000 capital campaign to build the new church and the campaign was kicked off in October of 2006. Over the next two years, building plans were drafted, finalized and submitted to the Diocese for approval and, on Dec. 7, 2008, groundbreaking ceremonies signaled the start of construction. In the meantime, the capital campaign raised more than $620,000, exceeding its goal by nearly 25 percent. The new church fulfills the vision long-held by McCormick County Catholics of having a new, larger Good Shepherd Church that would serve the parish well into the future.