For my friend in the southernized version of my state:
A New "Bible Belt" Emmerging In The SouthBobby
While the Deep South has been used to the conservativism of Bible Belt Baptists and fundamentalists of other denominations, a new "traditionalism" is rising within the borders of South Carolina.
With only 3 percent of the entire state of South Carolinians declaring themselves to be Roman Catholic, there is an influx of Yankee (Northern) transplants and a steady stream of local converts (several young men who have decided they want to become Roman Catholic Priests) spurred on by the visits of Catholic apologists/converts Gerry Matatics, Steve Wood and Scott Hahn (all three former Presbyterian ministers), over the past couple of years. This stream of Catholics from the North and from within is also being geometrically multiplied by the burgeoning Hispanic population, and has the Greenville, South Carolina Catholic population approaching 10 percent, not including many of the Hispanics who are not officially registered in their parishes.
This stream, which started out as a trickle, and is becoming a flood, speared six local Bob Jones University-affiliated churches to hold a four-day anti-Catholic conference back in February 2003, in which they brought in six ex-Catholic Priests and seminarians to innoculate their congregations against the horrors of "the whore of Babylon." As a result of the publicity surrounding this conference, another young man in his early 20s, a youth minister at another local Protestant Church, has recently been inquiring about becoming Catholic because he is discerning a call to the Priesthood as well.
In the midst of the everyday anti-Catholic environment has emerged a growing movement of traditional Catholics whose numbers are difficult to calculate, but have included from 130 to over 200 attendees at five traditional Latin Masses over the past year and a half.
Now, this traditional Catholic community moves forward, and perhaps the irony is that the "spirit of Vatican II" that every Catholic in his 40s and 50s and above was brainwashed with over the past 40 years, is perhaps really and simply a return to traditional Catholicism. These Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina-based Catholics will get the opportunity to attend the traditional Latin Mass (pre-Vatican II liturgy) on a monthly basis (third Sunday of every month) in Blessed Trinity in Greer, South Carolina at 5:30 p.m. Father Mark Fischer, a Priest with FSSP, who is based in an Atlanta-area Latin Mass community, will make the monthly trek up to the Greenville-Spartanburg area, and will also hold catechesis classes beginning at 4:30 p.m. through 2003. This Holy Mass is being celebrated through the gracious permission of His Excellency, Robert J. Baker, and Father Steve Brovey, Pastor of Prince of Peace in Taylors and Blessed Trinity in Greer.
Of course there are lots of older folks that attend this liturgy, but what is interesting is that there is an ever-increasing number of younger people and especially young families--BIG families--who were born after the Mass was changed to English and the Priest began to face the people, rather than offering sacrifice turned toward God.
All this in the heart of Bob Jones University territory. Perhaps "the spirit of Catholicism" in its "old-time religion" fits into the landscape in the Deep South much better than anyone could have ever imagined. God works in mysterious ways!