St. Joseph: Protector, provider, unsung hero

By Bob Castello

The numbers just don’t seem to add up when it comes to Joseph, the patron of St. Joseph’s Catholic School.

Joseph is never heard from in any of the gospels, he’s rarely mentioned — there’s no reference to Joseph at all in the Gospel of Mark — and yet, there are two feast days in his honor.

“There are zero quotes from him in the gospel,” said Karl Orbon, theology department chair at St. Joseph’s, “so you don’t get anything he ever said. We get very little of what he did, but what’s there is really, really important. He never does anything that’s sort of idle. There’s never a lost opportunity.”

Joseph does things that would be considered out of the ordinary, and he does so without hesitation, Orbon said.

He takes Mary as his wife. When he’s told to move his foster child, Jesus, to avoid a massacre of children under the direction of Herod, Joseph leads Mary and Jesus to Egypt. When he’s told to leave Egypt and move to Nazareth, he does that.

“Within what we do have as a record of Joseph, you see that he’s constantly seeking God’s will and then doing that even when it’s a huge struggle,” Orbon said. “You get a very minimal list of things that he did, but it’s like every single one of them is greater than the next.”

All along, Joseph is an unsung hero.

“Joseph’s role is never for it to be about Joseph,” said Orbon. “His role is to be the guy in the background, pointing to Jesus and Mary and making things right for them. He gives us that example of, it’s not about getting credit, it’s not about getting accolades, it’s about doing the right thing, making sure things happen that need to happen and that you’re faithful to what God’s calling you to do.”

The significance of Joseph is reflected in the two feast days celebrated in his honor: March 19, the principal Feast of St. Joseph; and May 1, added later to remember Joseph the Worker.

“There’s the person who shows the dignity of work,” Orbon said. “The long stretch that we don’t really see explained in the gospels, he was probably just working and providing for the Holy Family. You get the idea of dignity and that doing the humble day-to-day tasks does nothing to diminish our dignity.

“And then March 19, which focuses on his role in the Holy Family. Again, it’s a backseat role. When your family is Mary and Jesus, it’s not about you, and that’s pretty clear. What we can presume from what we do know and then filling in the gaps, he must have been a person of extraordinary God-given grace or he couldn’t have been faithful to the extraordinary tasks God called him to do.”

Joseph’s role within the Holy Family was a primary reason the school was named in his honor.

“A lot of our students came from St. Mary’s, at least to start with,” said Louis Beck, one of the school’s founders. “That was going to be our primary feeder school, along with Our Lady of the Rosary, but St. Mary’s had a good name, and we said, ‘Well, the next step is St. Joseph.’ Since he was such a good protector and provider and our school was going to need a protector and provider, we said, ‘Let’s just call it St. Joseph’s High School.’ ”

Barbara McGrath, Director of Admissions and another of the school’s founders, said that once the school name was established, the first newsletter mailed out to supporters, donors and families was called “Protector and Provider.”

The initial handbook, published in 1994, included the following explanation:

“St. Joseph was chosen as the Patron of this School because God chose him as the Protector and Provider of Jesus and Mary. By our faith and confidence in Jesus our Savior, we are assured that St. Joseph’s High School and its students will be protected and its needs provided.”

Orbon said Joseph is a tremendous role model for high school students.

“Our high schoolers don’t necessarily know what their ultimate vocation will be,” he said. “They might have interests, they might have plans, but they don’t ultimately know what’s going to happen.

“Again, it can be tempting to look past today — ‘Someday I’m going to do great things’ — but part of that is to wait for God to tell you what’s next, listen, think, pray, be faithful, and when that calling is there, as best as we can, step up and live it.”

Likewise, Joseph serves as an excellent role model for fathers.

“As a dad, I can’t imagine what that felt like not knowing the next step,” Orbon said. “As fathers, we want to know that we’ve got the knowledge and control to take care of our kids, and if we’re honest, we don’t have either one of those things as fully as we’d like.

“When we look at what St. Joseph is a model of, it’s pretty everyday stuff, like doing your job, loving your family and doing the best you can to help them and take care of them. Ultimately in his case, not by his doing, it leads to the redemption of the world.”

Boys Golf Wins Season Opener


SJCS Boys Golf begins their season with a victory, defeating Landrum 198 to 204. Joey Clary finished as a medalist with 38, CJ Sahlman at 49, Sam Nixon 52, and Jakub Bonnert 59. Also, Ryan Meyer finished at 64 and Sebastian Casanova at 72.  A great season opener for the Knights!

“Yesterday’s win vs. Landrum was achieved by strong finishes of several of our team members,” said Coach Ted Coia. “Joey Clary’s amazing birds on 3 of the last 5 holes, including one on the final hole, Sam Nixon’s pars coming down the home stretch, as well as CJ Sahlman’s and Jakub Bonnert’s focus on rounding out the team total despite some ups and downs during the afternoon. This proves good things can happen in the game of golf (and in life) if you continue to work hard stay focused on completing the task at hand.  There’s no quit in this team!”

Students Seek Truth, Beauty, and Justice at New York Encounter 2019

Mid-February, 19 SJCS students and 4 parents travelled to New York City with Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, their 2-month old baby, and Ms. Houmis to participate in the New York Encounter. The New York Encounter is an annual three-day public cultural event in the heart of New York City, offering opportunities for education, dialogue, and friendship. According to St. Paul’s suggestion to “test everything and retain what is good” the Encounter aims to discover, affirm, and offer to everyone truly human expressions of the desire for truth, beauty, and justice. The encounter took place at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th and 6th in Manhattan, and was comprised of a weekend of speakers and exhibits exploring a theme from the Italian poet Cesare Pavese: “Has anyone promised us anything? Than why do we expect something?

In between speakers and exhibits, the group visited some of the sights of NYC, including Ground Zero, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Times Square. One of the most interesting parts of the weekend was the chance to meet other high school kids from around the country who, as one of the St. Joe’s seniors put it, “do what we do at Wednesday night campus ministry.” Thank you to all those who made this trip possible for our students!

Annual Minimester provides break from the ordinary

By Bob Castello

Algebra, chemistry and English classes have been replaced by horror movies, dog training and beading this week at St. Joseph’s Catholic School.

And murder mysteries, military figurines and trips to the Greenville Zoo and Congaree National Park. And much more.

It’s the annual Minimester, a breather after the first three quarters and a break from traditional classes.

“This is a rough time of year for students in any school, because Christmas has passed and we’re just trying to slog through to get to the end of the year,” said Dr. Steven Jones, director of the high school at St. Joe’s.

For the high school students, Minimester is a three-day stretch at the end of the quarter that enables them to learn and connect with teachers in a different way. (The middle school has its own version of the Minimester, comprised of various field trips throughout the year.)

“It’s nice because it’s a break, but there are good options you can do that are relatively entertaining and/or educative,” junior Philip Mosley said.

A large portion of the senior class takes part in a mission trip, during which students work for Habitat for Humanity and some other groups in and around Tampa, Fla. It’s a five-day trek that normally extends into the weekend; this year it’s during the week because school is out Thursday and Friday for the annual Diocese of Charleston Teacher Education Conference.

Among the other popular trips during the Minimester are those to Barrier Islands and the Biltmore Estate. In addition, many juniors and some sophomores take the opportunity to make college visits.

Some of the courses involve traveling relatively short distances, but many students stay in town and take advantage of local field trips and on-campus activities.

“We try to have a good mix of things that are outdoors and things that are a little calmer,” Jones said. “A few of them can get pricey, and not everyone wants to do that, so we try to have some that are free or $20, along with the larger ones.”

In preparation for Minimester, teachers submit proposals for activities. A committee is in place to make sure there is a good balance, and each activity must have at least 10 students. They choose from a list of about 20 activities, most of which are “things that teachers have their own intellectual interests in,” Jones said.

“It’s very relaxed,” said Jones. “They’re not going to be in uniform, and they bring snacks in. Part of the goal is for the students to be able to catch their breath and relax a little bit, so we don’t push them real hard.”

Father Jonathan Duncan discusses the church’s teaching on the supernatural in his “Theology of Horror” course Monday during Minimester at St. Joseph’s Catholic School.

Mosley and 10 other students are taking part in the Theology of Horror class being led by Father Jonathan Duncan, the school’s chaplain. Mosley said he and Duncan had talked about creating a Minimester activity, and this — the supernatural — seemed a natural.

“He talks about horror movies in his homily sometimes,” Mosley said.

Duncan has an affinity for the genre, which he said is increasing in popularity and “skewing toward younger and younger kids.”

“They have this interest in the supernatural,” Duncan said, “and if I can get them to explore that there might be a devil, if they’re willing to kind of entertain that, then they’re on their way to believing if there’s a devil, there must be a God. There must be a good.

“Because there is so much pushing them in the direction of unbelief, we can begin to say, ‘Why do you think you’re drawn to some of these movies and stories? What can we pull out of them that’s consistent with a Christian and a Catholic world view?’ “

Meanwhile, in his classroom, math department chair George Carr has students recreating various battles from history with the help of miniature soldiers. His father had a large collection, and Carr has added to it over the years.

Ten students divided into two teams are competing while moving from the Anglo-Zulu War in South Africa in 1879; to the Battle of Agincourt in the Hundred Years’ War in France in 1415; to the Russo-Finnish Winter War in Finland in 1939.

Dice are rolled, scores are kept and strategy is critical.

“I would say they’re pretty engaged,” said Carr.

“It’s extremely fun, just sitting around trying to figure out how not to die,” senior Zack Copher said with a smile.

Among the other activities being offered this week are beading, fencing, dog training and hiking.

“It gives the students a chance to kind of take a mental break,” Carr said.

“Some people think, ‘I need to work, work, work,’ ” said Copher. “But some people who are like me say, ‘I just want a little time to hang out with whoever’s in the Minimester with me, get to know some new people and just shoot caution to the wind and have some fun.’ “

George Carr (back, center) leads students through the recreation of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War with miniature figurines in his “History in the Making” course Monday during Minimester at St. Joseph’s Catholic School.

Fish Fry & Oyster Roast

The Parents Guild Proudly Present

Annual Fish Fry
& Oyster Roast

Friday, March 15th
5:00 PM-8:00 PM

Update: Orders Closed

Join Us For: Stations of the Cross, Live Music featuring Tailspin, Fellowship, Charlie’s Famous Fried Fish (Dine-In & To-Go), and NEW! Oyster Roast (Dine-In Only)!
We’ll Be Outside Under the Big White Tent

$9-Fish Plate
$3-Kids Pizza Plate
$20- All-you-can-eat Oysters and more!

STEM Club Performs Rocket Launches

After almost two weeks of waiting for the rain to clear, the middle school STEM Club held their rocket launch on Tuesday, February 26.

STEM Club, which explores careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with multiple hands-on activities, has been constructing their rockets with the guidance of faculty members Lisa Shapiro, Joanna McLucas, and Brian Haffey. Mr. Haffey, who teaches Honors Aerospace Science in the high school, assisted the students with safely mounting the rockets on the launch stand and operating the controls while Mrs. Shapiro showed them how to add the propellant.

It was an excited culmination of their hard work and a great introduction to this branch of study!

Anthony Ray Hinton: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row – Feb 27

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
7 – 8:30 PM Book signing to follow
McAlister Auditorium, Furman University

Anthony Ray Hinton — Exonerated after 30 years on death row

Anthony Ray Hinton spent thirty years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Wrongly convicted in the state of Alabama for two capital murders with erroneous evidence and inadequate representation, Hinton was eventually exonerated after more than a decade of litigation by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) on his behalf.
Hinton now travels across the world speaking about his experience and serves as the EJI’s community educator. Most recently, Hinton has authored a memoir, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, which Oprah Winfrey selected as her Book Club Summer 2018 Read.

St. Joseph’s Catholic School Pope Francis Forum for Dialogue and Diversity is sponsoring this event with the Furman University NAACP, Furman University Religious Council, Furman University Poverty Awareness Committee, and the Furman University Student Diversity Council.


Interfaith Panel Shares Both Differences and Unity

By Bob Castello

A distinguished group provided a variety of profound thoughts during Wednesday night’s interfaith panel discussion in the St. John Paul II Center at St. Joseph’s Catholic School.
But, as some of them pointed out, it wasn’t as much about what they said as it was about the fact that they were there to say it.
They came to try to answer the question, “Who is My Neighbor?” While pointing out the obstacles that still exist, they also reminded the gathering about the erosion of such barriers.
“They’re actually being worn away, and you who are all here are proof of that,” said Frances Worthington, a representative of Greenville’s Baha’i congregation. “Twenty years ago, you might not have come to this, and today you did.”
“Fifty years ago, we wouldn’t have had this meeting,” said Rev. Dennis McManus, a Georgetown University professor and consultant for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Jewish Relations Committee.
“A hundred years ago, it would have been laughable to have such a thing. Nobody would believe this. And five hundred years ago, we’d have been arrested.”
On Wednesday night, they were applauded, primarily for their presence but also for their forthright responses to questions about their differences.
Dr. Akif Aydin, a Muslim and president of the Atlantic Institute, which was founded “to bridge the deep gap of social interaction and “to promote respecting differences,” said he initiates dialogue with his neighbors so “they do not feel there is a terrorist that moved into the neighborhood.”
“I’m sorry that you should have to feel like you have to convince people that you’re not a threat,” said Rabbi Matthew Marko of Congregation Beth Israel, a conservative synagogue in Greenville.
His response drew a couple of amens from the audience.
“My hope is that we’ve learned that there’s a reconciliation model where we can come and go to each other without feeling anyone has the obligation,” said Rev. Ronald Smith of First Christian Church in Greenville.

Wednesday’s event was organized by St. Joseph’s English teacher Jennie Neighbors, who was inspired by “a very dark week” at the end of October.
Eleven people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh because they were Jewish. A white man killed two black people at a supermarket in Kentucky. A man killed two women at a yoga studio in Florida.
In addition, 15 bombs were found throughout the U.S. that had been planted against individuals and organizations because of their political affiliations.
“So in the space of a week,” Neighbors said, “we saw violent hate crimes against individuals because of religion, race, gender and politics.”
Neighbors attended a vigil organized by the Greenville Jewish Federation in remembrance of the Tree of Life victims, as well as those killed in the Kentucky supermarket.
“Speakers of various faiths came together publicly to recognize and support each other,” Neighbors said.
That led to Wednesday’s gathering, at which Father Sandy McDonald, pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Columbia, served as moderator.
“It’s a great way for a school community to be exposed to both the differences and the fundamental unities of being human,” said McManus, the Georgetown professor.
“In the Christian tradition, the following of Jesus means everyone is my neighbor. There are no exceptions to that, despite what Christians have done over the centuries to create exceptions.”
Pastor Deb Richardson-Moore of Triune Mercy Center, a non-denominational mission church that ministers alongside the homeless in downtown Greenville, brought up the parable of the Good Samaritan and then recounted her early days of working with the homeless. She listened and provided groceries and anything else for which she could shop.
That was before she realized their real need was “freedom from alcohol or drug addiction” and “a change in mindset.”
“The true neighbor is one who is discerning about what is needed,” she said.

There remains a need in the area of overcoming obstacles. The group discussed racism, marriages between people of different religious backgrounds and the reasons for division.
Rabbi Marko said “a lack of pluralism in thought” causes separation.
“We’ve become us and them, right and wrong, winner, loser,” he said. “When I look at what we’re all talking about, really at the core of it, we’re all talking about the same stuff. We think we’re so different, but we’re not.”
That they could come together in the first place was noteworthy where St. Joseph’s student body president Davis Cooney was concerned.
“Just a couple hours earlier in the day,” said Cooney, “Father (Jonathan) Duncan celebrated Mass on the very stage that we’re having four different faith groups talk about their differences and their unity.”
Then he asked the group what provides them with hope for the future.
Richardson-Moore said she leads a congregation of about 280, but 66 churches and organizations of various beliefs come to assist them.
“Many of them would never have a woman in their pulpit,” she said, “but they believe that God told us to serve the poor, and so they come to Triune and do that.”
Marko recalled an incident just a few days after the Pittsburgh shooting, days when he was tending to the needs of others and “didn’t have time for myself to sort of have that moment.”
He was alone in his office when a family came to the door, parents with two children. Marko paused while collecting himself.
“They brought me a plant, a simple plant,” he said, still gripped by emotion, “and that was the first time since I heard the news that I had a shoulder that I could cry on. That one family with that one plant is hope.”
Just as one diverse group on one stage is hope.

National Merit Finalists Named

St. Joseph’s Catholic School is pleased to announce that seniors Anthony Cinquemani and Joshua Powers have been named National Merit Finalists. All Finalists are considered for National Merit Scholarship and approximately 7,500 Finalist from the group of more than 15,000 Finalists nationwide will be selected.  NMSC will begin mailing scholarship offers to winners in March. Congratulations on this tremendous achievement!

St. Joseph’s would also like to congratulate this year’s Commended Scholars, Luke Cunniffe and Liliana Jaraczewski.  These students placed among the top 50,000 of more than 1.6 million students who entered the competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT).

Boys and Girls Varsity Basketball Head to State Playoffs

Both Boys & Girls Varsity basketball claimed victories in their region tiebreaker games, sending them to the State Playoffs. The Boys defeated Blacksburg 53-38, and the Girls defeated Southside Christian 43-40 in their rematch on Friday.

Below is the schedule for our 1st Round Basketball games. We hope you can get out and cheer on your Knights as they compete for their State Championships!

Girls Basketball 1st Round game:

Play at Saluda High School on Tuesday 2/12 at 6:00pm. The school address is 160 Ivory Key Road, Saluda, SC 29138. If we win, the girls will play on the road Friday evening 2/15.

Boys Basketball 1st Round game:

Play at Eau Claire High School on Wednesday 2/13 at 7:00pm. The school address is 4800 Monticello Road, Columbia, SC 29203. If we win, the boys will play on the road Saturday evening 2/16.

SJCS Seniors Bynum and Thompson Sign to Play Division I College Ball

The Athletic Department is pleased to announce that seniors Luke Bynum and Kyra Thompson have committed to continuing their athletic careers in college at the winter signing day on February 6, 2019.

Bynum will be playing Division I football at Furman University, joining his teammate and classmate Jake Johanning who signed in the fall.  Thompson will be playing Division I Beach Volleyball for the College of Charleston. Congratulations to these student athletes on their success, and we look forward to following their careers!

American Leprosy Missions Visits Sixth Grade Academy

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

In the latest Sixth Grade Academy Altruism in Action event, the students welcomed Mr. Jim Oehrig from American Leprosy Missions to share about his work in Africa and India. The students have been studying the virtues of fortitude and perseverance. Mr. Oehrig’s visit not only brought these virtues to life in a powerful way, but also brought many Gospel stories about people suffering from leprosy to life as well. The children listened with rapt attention as Mr. Oehrig shared stories of hope and bringing not only medical treatment, but also bringing Christ’s love and treating people with dignity even though you may be afraid of their suffering or how they might look.

To help engage the student in some of the challenges a person with leprosy might face, the students competed to see who could unwrap a Hershey Kiss with oven mitts on, mimicking the lack of feeling in the hands.

In preparation for his visit, the students had collected loose change to help provide care for children and adults suffering from leprosy, and were able to present Mr. Oehrig with a very heavy sack of change totaling just over $1700! This amount, the students learned, could provide care and change the lives of at least four people suffering from this disease half a world away.

Interfaith Panel Discussion: “Who Is My Neighbor?” Feb 13

Join us at St. Joseph’s Catholic School on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 for an Interfaith Panel Discussion addressing the question “Who Is My Neighbor?”.

John Paul II Center
7:00 PM
Free and open to the public

The evening will be moderated by Fr. Sandy McDonald, pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Columbia, South Carolina. We are pleased to welcome the following diverse board of panelists:

Rev. Dennis McManus, Ph.D. Georgetown University professor, consultant for the USCCB’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and Jewish Catholic Relations Committee.

Dr. Akif Aydin President of the Atlantic Institute. The Atlantic Institute was founded to bridge the deep gap of social interaction, to promote respecting differences, and to commit to the common good in the State of South Carolina.

Rabbi Matthew Marko of Congregation Beth Israel, a Conservative Synagogue in Greenville, South Carolina.

Pastor Deb Richardson-Moore of Triune Mercy Center, a non-denominational mission church that ministers alongside the homeless in downtown Greenville, South Carolina.

Rev. Ronald Smith of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Greenville, South Carolina.

Frances Worthington, author and a representative of the Greenville community’s Baha’i congregation.


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