The Image Award winner for the month of October was the Shrine of Our Lady of Joyful Hope. The Shrine was the fulfillment of a teenage dream by Fr. Stanley Smolenski. He discovered his call to priesthood while a missionary assistant in his early 20’s in Kingstree. His 12 years of philosophy and theology were done in the US, Canada, Rome and Italy. He has served as a pilgrimage chaplain for 20 years to shrines in 15 European and Latin American countries as well as the Holy Land which has resulted in an interesting collection of original art that is on display at the Shrine. Shrines are places for in-depth prayer and meditation.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Joyful Hope has pilgrims from throughout the state and beyond that come to refresh their hearts, minds and souls. The title Our Lady of Joyful Hope is rooted in the SC state seal and motto, “While I breathe, I hope” and in scripture, Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in Hope.” The director of Pilgrimages for the Shrine, Cathy Bell, is a volunteer retiree from the Clemson area who met Fr. Stanley at a spiritual retreat in Georgia in 2008. She was asked in 2015 to assist with pilgrims and received a healing of her debilitating spinal pain that has allowed her to do many things she previously was physically unable to do. Now, her volunteer duties include being Father’s executive assistant, overseeing two Shrine properties, and planning pilgrimages for individuals and groups.
The Shrine’s May and October celebrations can attract more than 200 participants from all over the state. The Shrine was selected as our Image Award winner for their improvements made recently to the property and their extraordinary efforts to bring more people to our county. Some of the recent improvements are: trees cut down and trimmed to enhance visibility, front sidewalk and steps were renovated, landscaping around the property, instillation of an irrigation system, new roofs, and a new sign with the updated logo was added out front.
The Shrine has created a beautiful space we can all be proud of as a community, so please congratulate them on their noticeable efforts.