Catholic priests in high demand in South Carolina

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It's a profession with lots of job openings, but few men apply. Catholic priests are in high demand especially in South Carolina.

Now the church has found a new way to recruit men to the religious life.

Tucked away behind the trees and traffic on Wentworth Street, sits a home for young men thinking about a higher calling in life. Drexel House is a Catholic residence where scriptures are studied and prayers are recited in a spiritual setting.

"Definitely a part of the house, an important part, was to provide an environment for men to grow in their faith and to begin to think and consider the priesthood," said Jeffrey Kirby of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston.

Father Kirby is Vicar of Vocations for the Diocese of Charleston. He recruits Catholic men to become priests. Father Kirby says the need for clergy is critical and Drexel House is a tool.

"We have a house full of ten guys who are committed to prayer and virtue, and perhaps not doing things that some of their peers might be involved in," said Father Kirby."And instead, choosing to use this time, their young life, to deepening their faith. And to discern where they can use their abilities and service to others."

The house comes with plenty of living and sleeping space with kitchen and dining quarters and a chapel for prayer and reflection.

Until this summer, the Diocesan Vocations office was in Columbia. But church leaders decided to move it to Charleston because of the Catholic population growth here. And the timing was perfect because the church already owned the real estate.

The diocese bought the building in the 1860's. It became St. Peters church for African-Americans. In 2001, the building was dedicated to Mother Katherine Drexel who was known for helping the poor.

Charleston native Rhett Williams lives at Drexel. An alumnus of Bishop England High School and Wofford College, Williams came here after leaving the Peace Corps.
"I was still discerning god's call for my life. I didn't know exactly where i wanted to go," Rhett Williams said. "So it presented an opportunity to come and discern. And also apply to graduate schools."

While Rhett isn't sure if he'll become a priest, he says living and praying here is helpful. And he's doing it in historic downtown.

"The Drexel House is a unique opportunity to come and live with like minded guys in a Christian environment and discern God's call wherever it may lead," Rhett said.

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