The Present
The elementary school closed in June 1994 and reopened as the St. Jude Enrichment Center. Preschool, kindergarten and elementary remedial programs were offered. Sr. Kathleen Dougherty was the center's first director. Since community programs are now available, the center is inactive.
A favorite parish event is the Parish Picnic held each summer at the Shaw AFB picnic grounds. The event begins with an outdoor Mass. Each family contributes a covered dish or dessert with the parish supplying the hot dogs and hamburgers. Games for the kids, baseball for the teens and a raffle for the adults make this a fun-filled affair.
The feast of Pentecost offers a fitting opportunity to showcase the many cultures that make up St. Jude's parish. Weather for the outdoor Mass has always lived up to expectations. Epistles have been read in French, German, Spanish, and Vietnamese languages. It is indeed a celebration of national cultures.
A parish community builder and fund-raiser is the annual Fall Festival. Held in the Parish Center, it features handicrafts, artistic creations and baked goods made by the parish ladies. Games, face painting and pony rides are open to the kids and a raffle with marvelous prizes tempt the adults. A sumptuous dinner makes for a delectable ending to the social event of the year.
The memorial garden at St. Jude was created in honor of the veterans who have served and given their lives in military service to the nation. An addition to the garden is the headstone donated by the Knights of Columbus which memorializes the unborn lives lost through abortion.
In 1995, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, in a move to reduce their worldwide commitments, made the decision to withdraw from St. Jude Parish. Bishop David Thompson assigned the parish to the Redemptorist Congregation. Reverend Michael Varady, C.Ss.R. was appointed pastor. The Redemptorist's devotion to Our Blessed Mother led to the introduction of a weekly novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
A unique ministry at St. Jude's is the migrant ministry. This outreach program ministers to the Hispanic farm workers who work the fields of Sumter County. The program identifies the physical, social and spiritual needs of the workers. It provides clothing, food and funds for the laborers.
The Shaw Airman's Cookie Drive is a community- wide activity that provides cookies for the Shaw AFB enlisted persons during Christmas. In 1998, St. Jude families baked 213 dozen cookies, which placed the parish second among the churches donating. St. Jude embraces the caring and sharing attitude that the city has with its nearby military air base.
Another community activity that attracts members of the parish is the annual CROP Walk. The CROP Walk supports the work of Church World Service. Originally based on donations of crops, walkers now enlist sponsors who donate money based on the distance the person walks. The course is 10 kilometers in length. The donations are used by CWS for international famine relief/disaster assistance, and locally by United Ministries.
Habitat for Humanity provides a means for St. Jude parishioners to volunteer their time and skills in building homes for families in need. Working side-by-side with the future homeowner, the volunteers build low-cost housing financed by no-profit, no-interest home loans. The completed home provides not only shelter for poverty-level families but a sense of hope and confidence for the future.
Open my eyes to your work and your presence, and my lips to speak your praise.
And by my actions, Lord, let me reveal your presence to others.
Louise Perrotta

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