Bernie and Freida Flowers

"Just Lay One Brick a Day”
Bernie and Freida Flowers’ Continued Devotion to St. Frederick and St. Stephen Catholic Church

The faithful efforts of a few Catholic families have always been the cornerstones of St. Frederick and St. Stephen Catholic Church.

If you want to find one of these families, visit St. Frederick and St. Stephen on Saturday mornings.  There you’ll find the couple Bernie and Freida Flowers lovingly prepare the church for Mass. No one really knows the story behind their devotion to the church, and we wanted to share it with everyone. ..

The Flowers family has lived and worked in Edisto for more than a century.  The family made a living by harvesting an abundance of oysters and shrimp, helping construct the golf course, and working on other significant jobs on the island. At that time, no Catholic church existed on the island…

On Sundays, the Flowers family dressed in their finest and made a 70-mile roundtrip to St. Mary’s in Meggett, S.C. to attend 7 a.m. church.

Bernie says that dressing up was a “matter of respect.”  His mother always wore a dress and a hat, and he recalls dressing up in nice shorts and a shirt.  It was at St. Mary’s, that Bernie and his family and other island Catholics attended and received the Sacraments.

Many years later and after a Bishop’s approval, a priest was sent to hold Mass on Edisto, so Catholics no longer had to travel to St. Mary’s. Without a Catholic structure on the island, Mass was held at the Flowers’ as well as another family’s – the Herlihy’s – homes for many years.  The homes were not large enough to accommodate Summertime visitors, so a building was needed. In 1954, the Beach Company provided a lot to the Lions Club.  Fred Herlihy offered the Lions Club a loan of $6,000 if they would build a clubhouse and allow the Catholic Community to use the building for Mass on Sunday mornings. The current lot where the Parish Hall and Church stand was acquired in 1977.

As Bernie and Freida tell it, Bernie’s father, Stephen, had a vision to build a Catholic Church on Edisto. He always said, “If we just laid one brick a day, we would have a church by now.” His vision was realized when what is now the Parish Hall was built in 1979. That year, Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler decreed that the Catholic Church on Edisto Island be designated as the Church of St. Frederick and St. Stephen, in recognition of St. Frederick, who was a bishop, and St. Stephen, the First Martyr of the Church, and inspired by Bernie’s father, Stephen, and Fred Herlihy.

The Flowers family fulfilled a vision and continue to be treasured by our church and community. Their future vision is for “everybody to get together after Mass and find out what everyone is doing.”  Parishioners will “get more out of church,” says Bernie, if they “stay after Mass and talk for a few minutes.”

I think we can all agree with Bernie on this vision.

Please say hello and thank them for all their work to establish a church in Edisto.

Family Mass Traditions

Attending Mass together at Sts. Frederick & Stephen is an important part of our family’s summer vacation.  We arrive at the beach and quickly unload our cars, so we can go to Saturday night Mass together.  Since this is the only time each year that we all get together, it’s important to start our time giving thanks to God.  Our children and grandchildren know that we can go to the beach every day, but first, we give thanks.  The atmosphere at Sts. Frederick & Stephen’s is peaceful, and the people are kind.  It’s the perfect way to start our summer annual reunion week.

-John & Margaret, Missouri

Parish Hall A7.2 Catherine_s testimonial (1)

Edisto Mass Memories

Growing up, my family came to Edisto every summer, and attending Mass at Sts. Frederick & Stephen Church was an important part of our vacation.  I remember going to Masses in what is now the Parish Hall.  I was curious as to why this sanctuary was so different from the cathedral we went to at home, yet they were both Catholic.  The new sanctuary is perfectly suited for an island church.  Now I am bringing my own family to Edisto.  My husband and I are glad that we can support this island church through electronic giving because being able to worship here is important to us.

-Catherine, Ohio

Bill & Nita were happy to celebrate their 40th Anniversary at Sts. Frederick & Stephen  with a special Mass with Father JP.
Bill & Nita were happy to celebrate their 40th Anniversary at Sts. Frederick & Stephen with a special Mass with Father JP.

Edisto Catholic Home

When my wife and I decided to move to Edisto, we visited the Catholic Church.  Our home parish is our “family,” so finding a welcoming church was an important part of our decision to move here.  We are not sure if it was Joe’s (the usher who greeted us at the doorway) smile and and kind words or the sense of community we felt during Mass, but we both knew this would be the perfect home for us.  We are very thankful that we can live on Edisto and be members of Sts. Frederick & Stephen Catholic Church.

-Bill & Nita, Edisto Island, SC