GLOVERVILLE — Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Center has a new leader following the transfer of longtime administrator Sister Mary Jean Doyle of the Daughters of Charity.
Doyle has been transferred to a post at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., and Sister Catherine Marie Lowe took over as administrator of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Center on July 13. Lowe has been assigned to Our Lady of the Valley for one year as of Aug. 12.
“I never expected it. When I was asked to come here, it was to help Sister Mary Jean,” she said. “When I was told I’d be taking over, I had to sit back and say, oh my. What’s this going to mean? What’s it going to entail? Then there’s the money; I don’t like asking people for money, I’m not good at doing that, and that’s a big part of this job. Then, too, I know that money comes in from people who know you, and who knows me in the Valley? I haven’t built those relationships yet in the Valley.”
In the month since taking the position, Lowe and her new volunteer assistant Harold Bertrand have been evaluating the condition of the Center’s facilities, doing autumn repairs and maintenance, and looking at current conditions in Midland Valley to determine if the Center is addressing all of Valley residents’ needs for assistance.
Among the Center’s programs are the Benefit Bank, which helps those in need find and apply for assistance programs such as food stamps they may be eligible for; the outreach program, which addresses emergency needs such as shortages on a utility bill or a prescription medication; the GED training classes, offered in the mornings and evenings; and a food pantry.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve been looking at since I arrived, even before I took this position, is the hours in which we’re open. We’re open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon, and we’re looking at whether maybe we need to change those hours, especially for the Benefit Bank and the food pantry,” she said. “Even though we have people who are working, they may still need assistance – they may be working five days a week but that job might not pay enough to feed a family. So we’re looking at staying open longer.”
Lowe joined religious life in 1968, feeling a calling to help people. She spent 25 years with the Sisters of Notre Dame, working with children.
She felt a need to focus more on social work, and transferred to the Daughters of Charity, whose programs are better suited to that focus.
“I like this area. I never dreamt I’d be back in the South – I’m from Birmingham, Ala., but I have not been back to Birmingham since 1968, and all of a sudden I was coming back to the South,” Lowe said. “When I came down here, everything is so beautiful. One thing that impressed me was the slowness. I’m used to being in Chicago, Cincinnati; I spent some time in Milwaukee, and in Chicago everything is go go go! Now, I like the slower pace, and I love that there’s less traffic.”
Lowe emphasized that the Center is entirely dependent on donations and volunteer efforts. Donations of money, food or clothing items are always welcome and can be brought to the church.
Those interested in making a donation or volunteering can call the Center at 593-2623 or call Lowe at 292-4409.
Suzanne Stone is a general assignment reporter at the Aiken Standard. She is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design and studied communications at Augusta State University.