Venezuela has been in the midst of a severe political and economic crisis for the past several years. Millions of refugees have fled Venezuela due to extreme levels of unemployment and severe challenges in trying to access daily necessities such as food and medication. Those who stayed are struggling with a worsening economic situation, including a year-over-year inflation rate of 2,400% last year.
A recent census revealed that more than 96% of the population lives in poverty and malnutrition. In 2018, it was reported that most Venezuelans had lost nearly 25 pounds in the previous year. Venezuela’s oil industry, once the country’s primary economic driver, has been reduced to a single producing well.(1)
Ana Vera and her husband are natives of Caracas, Venezuela, and now live on Hilton Head Island. Ana visits friends and family members in Venezuela, and has witnessed the extreme poverty that has so drastically changed their lives. She approached the Women of St. Francis with an idea: “Let’s grow a community of friends and help the ‘poorest of the poorest’” – orphaned children, adolescent girls, and the elderly in Venezuela.
The idea came from Ana’s friends in Memphis, who had organized a group that has been making and sending clothing to Haiti for the past decade. She also has friends in Houston who have undertaken a similar ministry.
The Covenant Sewing Ministry of the Women of St. Francis has 12 members, who work from their homes sewing dresses and other clothing for children and adolescents, along with feminine hygiene kits for adolescent girls and aprons and pillows for the elderly.
While most organizations struggle to get food and supplies to those who need them in Venezuela’s complex political landscape, Ana has assembled an efficient network of locals. Two priests deliver the goods to four Catholic orphanages and schools serving children from ages 1 to 19, including one that houses 300 abandoned, HIV-positive children. A cousin helps distribute goods into bad areas. “It takes a village,” Ana remarked.
But shipping products from the U.S. to Venezuela is an expensive proposition. A single box can cost $160 to $180 to ship from Hilton Head. Ana has discovered that shipping from Miami is half the cost, and her brother can sometimes find people traveling there who are willing to help.
The group is looking for cash donations to cover shipping costs and buy fabric. They would also welcome donations of cotton fabrics – flannel, polished and pique – and coupons for fabric stores like Hobby Lobby. Gently-used children’s clothing is also gratefully accepted. If you can help, please contact Ana at (901) 896-9086. Checks (made payable to the Women of St. Francis), fabric and coupons can be sent to or dropped off at the Parish Office.
The group is especially thankful for a recent $5,000 donation from an anonymous donor. “The Lord has blessed us in so many ways,” Ana said. The Covenant Sewing Group hopes to do the same for the people of Venezuela for years to come.
(1) Center for Disaster Philanthropy, “Venezuela Humanitarian and Refugee Crisis”, November 9, 2020.
Eleanor was completely surprised at our December 14th General Meeting to be named to this honor!
Her daughter and husband were present to surprise her as well. Elenor was a unanimous choice, being a daily Communicant, Cantor and fillling several positions of leadership in the Women of St. Francis.
Now Eleanor will be our nominee for the Beaufort Deanery Catholic Woman of the Year that will take place in mid-January. If successful, Eleanor will represent the Women of St. Francis at the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women Convention to be held March 12-14 in Rock Hill, SC.
Good luck, Eleanor, we’ll be cheering you on!!
The future St. Clare prayer garden, which will be located across from the Family Center, is a gift from the Women of St. Francis to the Parish. If you would like to make an additional donation in honor or in memory of someone special in your life, please click on this link for you may go to the parish office to pick up a form.
Names of all donors will be printed in the prayer garden brochure, which we will distribute at the statue dedication later this year. This brochure will also eventually be available in the Narthex for parishioners and visitors to the garden.
In addition to her many other gifts, St. Clare of Assisi is known for providing good weather. And so the skies were clear for St. Clare Day on August 11. The Women of St. Francis celebrated the feast day of their patroness with a groundbreaking ceremony for the St. Clare Prayer Garden, located between the church and the Family Center, and by installing officers for the 2020-2021 year.
“The prayer garden will be a special place for all of our parishioners to pray and to quietly contemplate,” said Mary Georgopulos, president of the Women of St. Francis. Work to construct the site, including pavers, crushed stone, benches, and greenery, will begin immediately. The centerpiece of the prayer garden, a marble statue of St. Clare, is being made in Italy and should arrive in time to dedicate the completed prayer garden in December.
New officers were installed at Mass just before the groundbreaking . They include: Mary Georgopulos, President; Kay Crawford, Vice President; Sandy Merritt, Vice President; Mary Ann Bell, Recording Secretary; and Lindie Spencer, Treasurer.
The organization was formed in 2004 to promote the spirit of unity among its members and the parish as a whole, and to foster the spiritual, cultural, educational, social and service oriented life of the parish.
For more photos of the Women of St. Francis, please click on the above photo.
Mission Statement: This women’s group was formed in 2004 to promote the spirit of unity among the members of the group and the parish as a whole and to foster the spiritual, cultural, educational, social and service oriented life of the parish.
Congratulations to The Women of St. Francis who were recognized
By the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women for outstanding
Work in several fields for the 2019 calendar year.
Coordinating such a successful event.
Congratulations to all of our members who do such an outstanding job of serving our parish and community! If anyone would like to join this wonderful group of women, we welcome you at any time of year to come to our meetings and learn more about our ministry. Contact Mary Georgopulos at (843) 715-8255 if interested.
Rosary Makers: The Rosary Makers are comprised of a small group of ladies affiliated with the Women of St. Francis. They make Rosaries for the First Communicants and the RCIA Candidates each year. Also, they make Chaplets for the Confirmandi. More recently, they have begun making rosaries for sick and homebound parishioners. We also make and sell specialty rosaries and these proceeds help pay for the supplies needed to make the rosaries that are given away. The Rosary Makers meet in the Sacristy behind the Main Altar in the Church on the 1st and 3rd Thursday afternoons from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. Anyone interested in additional information about our group can call Audrey McGovern at 843-682-8280.
"Cell Phone for Soldiers"
The Women of St. Francis is collecting Cell Phone for Soldiers. All donated cell phones are either:
If all else fails, your providers (AT & T, Sprint, etc.) will help you terminate your data.
Please place your phone and chargers in the box in the church's narthex or bring them to a Women of St. Francis' General Meeting. Any questions, please contact Kathy Struna (843)682-4045. Thank you for your support of our military!
Current Volunteer Opportunities: We promote volunteerism amongst our members and have been a resource for other ministries and non-profit organizations locally.