Fr. William Pentis, CO

Posted on Aug 23, 2011

Fr. William Pentis, CO

How did I get from Brookfield, IL to spend most of my life at The Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Rock Hill, SC? God writes straight with crooked lines! Praise the Lord!

Now that I am retired, I once again reflect on the above questions. At age 28, I saw a very small ad in America Magazine about a group of priests and brothers living in communty way off in Rock Hill, SC. I was drawn to find out more, so in June 1959 my Dad and I drove to The Oratory for a visit. (My other had died in 1955.) I was moved by what I saw and decided to seek admission. A month later found me returning by plane to begin my life as an Oratorian. About two years before this I had left St. Mary of the Lake Seminary at the end of third theology and took a job at Catholic Charities of Chicago doing social intake work with boys in trouble.

The small structured community which exhibited love of prayer, good liturgy and devotion to Blessed Mother together with hard work found a responsive cord in my heart. It was like joining a new family, especially when you consider the commitment to stay in that one place the rest of your life.

My education path had taken me through St. Barbara Parochial School in Brookfield, Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary iMundelein. I finished up my formal education at Catholic University in Washington.

What has consumed my 50 years here at The Oratory? A year of novitiate, two at Catholic University, four years teaching third and fourth grades at St. Anne Catholic School, seven and a half years as the priest at Divine Saviour in York, SC, six and a half at St. Catherine in Lancaster, three years with team ministry in Rock Hill, and twenty one years as pastor of St. Anne in Rock hill add up to 45. And now in my retirement years, I am retreaded to do fill-in ministry all over the area.

It still amazes me how God in His Goodness had prepared me to do priestly work in an area of so few Catholics after having come from such a Catholic center as Chicago. In Lancaster I was the only Catholic priest in the only Catholic parish in the whole County. I could feel for northerners moving south who were used to so many Catholic churches. I had learned how to care for myself as I had no staff there but a lot of good people.

In the Oratory I have held positions of leadership as vicar, deputy, secretary, and novice master. In the wider community I spent many years active in senior citizen work, in being spiritual moderator of the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women, and in founding and remaining with the Oratory Religion Camp for boys and girls, which will be in its 40th year in 2010.

In all of my activities, my Oratorian community has supported and encouraged me. We are family. Tears come to my eyes when I recall the love I experienced from the people in my various ministries over the years. It has been the dedicated, hard-working people where I have ministered that made it all possible. Truly God is good and in His goodness has brought about the mystery of how I got from Brookfield, IL to Rock Hill, SC! Please pray for this retreaded one, and I will do the same for you. God bless you as we journey together to the kingdom that is already among us.



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