Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish at 1709 Lyttleton Street, Camden, SC 29020 US - CHURCH HISTORY
According to available history, the Catholic Church in Camden had its origin well before 1884. The Diocese of Charleston was founded in 1820. At that time, there were only 1,000 Catholics in all of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. These three states were included in the Diocese of Charleston. Priests were scarce, and with no church, Camden was just a small mission. Mass was celebrated in private homes only when mission Priests were available.
In 1884 an effort was made to build a church in Camden. The building, however, was never completed and was sold later at public auction. Finally, in 1903, the Sacred Heart Church was constructed and dedicated. Camden then had its own Parish and Pastor. It was used until 1914. The building still stands and at present is the Jewish Synagogue.
On June 18, 1909, Miss Charlotte Thompson of Baltimore, Maryland, purchased land outside of Camden and moved into a house on the property known as “The Terraces." She soon became a benefactress of the present Catholic Church in Camden. Her interest began during a visit to Rome, Italy, where she was converted to Catholicism and was baptized in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Rome. In gratitude, she returned to Camden for the purpose of building a Catholic Church here, bearing the same name on property she purchased on the corner of North Lyttleton and Pine Streets. The Church was constructed and dedicated May 24, 1914.
It has since become one of the most picturesque sites in South Carolina. The Spanish motif lends a distinctive air to the surroundings and the red tiled roofs of both church and rectory stand out clearly. The landscaping features southern trees, flowers and shrubbery, all in keeping with the Spanish Mission design. A dark natural wood sets off the interior of the Church, with only a few minor changes having been made. Above the white marble of the Altar, which was imported from Italy, an exact replica of the painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, encrusted with jewels, occupies a prominent place over the Tabernacle. At the time of dedication, the Church had only 20 regular members. Membership growth over the years has increased to approximately 700 families.
Additional buildings erected on Church property since the dedication of the Church include a Rectory, and St. Mary's Hall. This was completed and dedicated by Bishop Paul J. Hallinan on August 20, 1961. In 1962, the garden area was enclosed and landscaped. In 1967 enlargement of the church was begun and completed April 1968. During this time Mass was celebrated in St. Mary's Hall. Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler blessed the renewed church and classrooms on October 27, 1968. In December 2005 renovations on the altar and floor inside the church were completed. The Our Lady of Perpetual Help icon altar, that had been in the back of the west wing, now serves as the altar for the reserve Sacrament.