Catholic Schools Week

01-26-2020Pastor's LetterCharlene Krushinsky, M.Ed., Principal

Dear Parishioners,

Today marks the beginning of a national week-long celebration of Catholic schools. So, Fr. Wilson asked if I could share a few thoughts with you about the need and importance of Catholic schools.

Our world has embraced Christ’s love for His people for over 2,000 years and this gift of our Faith has been carried out in Catholic schools from one generation to the next. Simply put - Catholic schools exist to introduce students to Jesus Christ.

More importantly, Catholic schools teach children to grow in their relationship with Jesus through prayer, celebrating the Sacraments, Scripture, and catechesis.

Our forefathers were faced with a dominant culture that was hostile to their values. The Catholic community in America built schools that allowed their children to grow in knowledge and faith – as good Catholics and good Americans. And with sweat, resolve, and prayer, these immigrants built the largest system of private schools the world had ever seen. For over 300 years, the Catholic community in the United States has championed our schools. And today, we bear the good fruit they planted.


Giving God Our Time

01-19-2020Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Wednesday, January 22, is a voluntary day of fasting and prayer for Respect for Human Life. All human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, regardless of age or even stage of development. God Himself revealed this by taking on human flesh in the Virgin Mary’s womb. There never was a time that His miraculous conception and gestation could have been considered “not human” or “not human yet.” Saint John the Baptist even leaped at the presence of Jesus, newly conceived, in the womb of his own mother, St. Elizabeth. In the words of Mother Teresa, “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” I personally have known many couples unable to have children, who want children and would make fantastic mothers and fathers. Children are wanted – never unwanted. It’s heartbreaking to know there is a home for a little girl or little boy if only we can give mothers and fathers considering ending the life of their unborn child a better choice – Life.


Happy Rebirth Day!

01-12-2020Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

You may recall that back in November of 2018, a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land was planned. The pilgrimage filled up almost immediately. It’s hard to believe but it’s now time to go! From January 15th through the 24th I will be accompanying thirty-four fellow parishioners to visit the land where God walked. We will see nearly all the places we hear about in the Scriptures. As I did when on sabbatical in 2015 when I began in the Holy Land, I am taking each of you with me spiritually and will be offering the Holy Mass for each of you and your intentions. Please pray for the safety of all on the trip; and please pray for peace in the Holy Land and the Middle East.

This weekend as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, we will begin some of the Masses with the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling of Water, recalling our own Baptism when Christ washed us clean of original sin and incorporated into His Mystical Body. As the priest moves through the assembly sprinkling the blessed water on the people, the cantor will sing, “Sprinkle me with hyssop, O Lord and I shall be cleansed; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:9). “This sprinkling with water is a visual reminder of Baptism (the foundational sacrament of all repentance) and the unique character of Sunday. Through the sacraments of Christian initiation, we die, are buried, and rise again with Christ: we thereby share in Christ’s victory over sin and death.” (Lawrence Johnson, The Mystery of Faith: A Study of the Structural Elements of the Order of the Mass, 1994.)


Happy "Little Christmas"

01-05-2020Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Gratitude is always difficult to express completely in the written word; however, I will try. While we are still in the midst of this joyful Christmas season, I want to say from the bottom of my heart how grateful I am for all those who helped make our experience of Christmas so meaningful. Of course, you’ve noticed the work of our “elves” (that’s how they’ve asked me to refer to them), who worked so hard setting up trees, hanging wreaths, gathering greenery and more, in order to create a beautiful and festive atmosphere in our churches and chapel.

Also, our staff worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure all was perfectly in place. We have an army of volunteers, whose weapons are boundless generosity and kindness! They not only clean and prepare for Christmas, but also for every week. Often, we don’t think of the work that has to be done washing and pressing linens, cleaning pews, changing holy water fonts, and so much more.

Another layer of beauty in audible form is added through the wonderful and tireless work of the leaders and volunteers from our choirs. They prepare for hours so that we can have a few minutes of enjoyment. Ultimately, of course, they sing to praise God first.


Days of Joy

12-29-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Christmas Season is in full swing! While the secular world has left Christmas behind like a dried fir tree on a curb, we as Catholics celebrate it for a whole season with life. Like Easter, Christmas is such an incredible event that it can’t be contained in one celebration. We celebrate the day for eight days in what’s known as the Octave of Christmas. Every day is Christmas Day!

A reminder that Wednesday, January 1 is a Holy Day of Obligation – the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Please note the Mass schedule since it is always different for this day. We have the Vigil, December 31 at 5:30pm. Then on January 1, 2020: 11:00am (English) and 7:00pm (Spanish). All Masses are in the church (138 Fairfield St. SE). Please note that there is no evening Mass or confessions on Jan. 1. Just in time for Christmas, three more of our stained-glass windows were recently installed. How grateful we are for our donors who have made these magnificent windows possible. Here is a little description of each:


O Come, Let Us Adore Him!

12-22-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s almost time! Our weeks of Advent preparation are about to burst forth into the joy of the Christmas season. Non-Catholics are often perplexed that we don’t decorate or sing carols until Christmas Eve. As a respectful reminder to those who might wonder, it was the Catholic Church that instituted the celebration of Christmas to begin with, which we have always celebrated only after a period of spiritual preparation (Advent). In fact, “Christmas” in English came from “Christ Mass,” i.e., the Mass of Christ. Also, our word “holiday” came from a contraction of “holy day.” See how deep our Catholic roots run!

As you leave Masses this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, please accept the gift of Matthew Kelly’s new book, Rediscover the Saints. It’s a gift for everyone – visitor and parishioner. From Dynamic Catholic: This book “is a game-changer. It doesn’t chronicle the lives of popular saints—plenty of great books already do that. Instead, this book brings the saints to life and puts them front and center in your life. Because the saints remind you each day that holiness is possible and that you have great friends always cheering you on!” We are so grateful for our anonymous donor, who made this gift possible.


Christmas Mass Schedule

12-15-2019Pastor's Letter
 Christmas Eve Mass Times:
4:00pmVigil Mass (English)
6:00pmVigil Mass (English)


Christmas Day Mass Times:
12:00amMidnight Mass (English)
10:00amMass (English)
12:00pm Mass (Spanish)

All Masses will be celebrated in St. Mary Help of Christians, 138 Fairfield Street, SE Aiken, SC 29803.

Immaculate Mary, Your Praises We Sing

12-08-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday, December 8, normally would be the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, since the 8th falls on a Sunday of Advent, which has precedence, the celebration of the solemnity is transferred to tomorrow, December 9. Although the obligation to attend Mass is therefore lifted this year, the Immaculate Conception still remains an incredibly important feast for us all.

The faithful have believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary since the early Christians. After all, it’s only common sense that in order for Jesus – God the Son – to become human without sin (see 1 John 3:5), the woman, who not only gave birth to Him but from whom He took His humanity, must have been herself free from original sin. God redeemed Mary before her conception to make it possible to bring us Himself, Our Lord and Savior. Mary is who she is because of who Jesus is.


Having Your Best Advent Ever

12-01-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with holiday songs, seasonal sales, decorations, lights, and sometimes Advent wreaths and candles. Why? What is it that we’re celebrating? What is Advent? The following are some thoughts from Dynamic Catholic. Sign up for The Best Advent Ever at

The word “advent” is derived from the Latin word “adventus,” which means “coming.” For Catholics, Advent is the four-week season leading up to Christmas. During Advent we anticipate the coming of Jesus. It should be a time full of reflection, excitement, and hope.

In her genius, the Church invites us during Advent to take a step back and look at who we are, what we are doing, and where Jesus fits into our lives. Jesus came into this world at that first Christmas for you, to bring meaning and deep satisfaction into your life, to fill you with lasting joy, and ultimately to bring you to eternal happiness with Him in heaven. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas. Are you ready? Our Advent traditions can help make us ready.


Crown the Year with Thanks

11-24-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Mass on Thanksgiving Day will be at 9:00am in Old St. Mary’s. What a great way to give thanks by first thanking the Creator of all. A collection is taken up at this Mass to benefit the poor and those in need.

We “crown” our liturgical year with this Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe. Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent and a new liturgical year. Advent is a great time to make new spiritual beginnings. Find daily inspiration at: – Best Advent Ever: Amazing Possibilities.

Also, Straw for Jesus is back for Advent! As a parish family, let’s make a comfortable bed for the Savior. For each act of love you do during the week, place a piece of straw (provided) in the heart-shaped container found at any entrance of the church. The priest will bless the straw at the Offertory, and it will be placed in the empty manger awaiting the Son of God. The straw prepares the stable, and our acts of love prepare our hearts. See the flyer for more details and suggestions for your “Acts of Love.”


A Reflection of Heaven

11-17-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

So, you’ve likely noticed the scaffolding covering the front of the church and have asked, “What’s wrong?” I’m happy to report that nothing is wrong. Something is right! From the beginning, a decorative mosaic was planned in the triangular space on the facade of the church called the pediment. Our own parishioner-artist, Alice Judd, has created this beautiful mosaic through a generous donation. The mosaic features one of the most ancient Christian symbols of the Resurrection – the peacock. Between two peacocks is a stylized chalice with a cross. Grape vines come forth from the chalice symbolizing both the Most Holy Eucharist and the Church, spreading through the world. I will provide a fuller explanation when the mosaic is ready to be revealed.


A Saint for Our Times

11-10-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

November is National Black Catholic History Month. Next Sunday we will have a special commemoration.

One African-American who is on the path to sainthood is the Venerable Fr. Augustus Tolton. Father Tolton was born into the sad life of slavery in Missouri. His baptismal record merely records him as “a child, property of Stephen Elliot; … and the child’s birthdate of April 1, 1854.” The family escaped to the North, but struggled to find acceptance there as well. Through the intervention of a kind priest and after a painful experience of rejection at an all-white Catholic school in Illinois, Augustus was admitted to another Catholic school, where he received an excellent education. When it came time for Augustus to enter seminary, sadly he faced rejection again. It would be in Rome at the Pope’s own seminary at St. John Lateran that Father Augustus would be ordained. On June 11, 2019, Pope Francis issued the declaration that Father Augustus Tolton lived a life of heroic virtue thus advancing him to the title, The Venerable Father Augustus Tolton.


Calling Us to More

11-03-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

God is always calling us to more. One of the major ways we encounter Him and learn how to be less self-centered is by serving. After all, our whole point as disciples is to imitate Jesus Himself, who said, “I have come not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Find out how you can serve Christ in others this Saturday at the Matthew 25: Call To Christian Service Workshop, November 9, from 8am to 2pm. It costs nothing to register and includes a light breakfast, a lunch, and free childcare. We begin appropriately enough with Holy Mass at 8:00am in the new church (please note location). The workshop follows across the street in St. Angela Hall. Saint Mary’s parish is pleased to host this event for the entire Aiken Deanery, co-sponsored by Catholic Charities.

This Thursday, November 7 at 7:00pm in the church is our annual Mass of Remembrance, sponsored by the St. Mary’s Bereavement Ministry. Each year we have a special Mass for all those who have died in the last year. All are invited to attend. A reception will follow next door in Mother Teresa Hall.