Community of St. Peter,
I am a sophomore at University of South Carolina, and I have been coming to St. Peter’s for Mass for about a year. I am writing because I feel extremely compelled to express my gratitude and love for the community of St. Peter’s.
After a beautiful Easter Vigil service, I stood quietly off to the side of the reception whole I waited for a friend to pick me up. A very kind usher came over and started talking toe me, apologizing for having to ask me to move around so man times as he searched for seats to people. Amidst our conversation about seating in churches, I mentioned my family. He asked where my parents were, looking around the room, but I told him I wasn’t from here. My family is all back home. He looked at me and smiled. “But you do have family here. With the church.”
I am from Louisville, Kentucky. The Archdiocese of Louisville is one of the oldest and largest in the country and the city is covered with parishes and Catholic schools. I come from a classic big Catholic family: My mother has been a cantor and sung in the choir since she was a teenager, and she grew up in our parish. My dad had been parish council president, serves as a Stephen Minister, and is currently in the process of discernment to become a deacon in the Class
of 2020. I went to Catholic school for 14 years, and my three little brothers are all following suit. Our Pre- K through 8
grade school was attached to mu home parish of St. Bernard. Needless to say, I was leaving behind a very rich and tight community when I moved down for school.
My freshman year, I was struggling to find a place where I fit in the Catholic community around campus. There was nothing wrong with it, it just didn’t feel like home. Frustrated, I stopped going to church for a few months. Not hav-ing a car on campus, I didn’t have many options to find a church community. A friend suggested I look at St. Peter’s,
which was only a mile down the road— a walkable distance for living on campus. I researched you, talking to my parents
na praying about it. The first little nudge from God came when I saw you had Stephen Ministry, something that is a very big part of our community at St. Bernard. It reminded me of home. I started regularly attending Mass at ST. Peter. Becoming more and more comfortable as I sat in the gorgeous church every Sunday.
This past December as I walked to Mass for Immaculate Conception, I saw students playing on the playground and immediately laughed and texted my parents in joy— St. Peter’s uniforms are the same uniform I wore for 10 years
at my grade school! It just felt so right. I truly felt like God was saying “See? This is home.” Shortly after that, I sat ne xt
to a kind women in Mass who now remembers me and gives me a hug whenever she sees me. On Palm Sunday, when I arrived at church on crutches having twisted my ankle a few days prior, everyone was so kind and concerned. As I showed up later in the week for Holy Triduum services without my crutches, people remembered me and asked about my ankle. The same usher from Easter Vigil now says hello every weekend and asks about my week and my family back home. It may all seen like such small things, but the care shown for me by so many members of the parish made me feel so at home.
When I come to Mass at St. Peter’s on Sundays, I really feel at home. I came from very tight- knit Catholic com-
munities in my schools, my parishes, my family, and even my internship this past summer at a retreat center. While very few people in your parish know who I am or probably even recognize my face, the few that do mean so much to me. I
love just being around the interactions that come with such a close Catholic community— someone asking about some-
one else’s family here, an announcement about the school there. Bake sales and lunches and meetings. Hugs and smiles and all the workings that just fir together into one big home.
Father’s homily on Easter Vigil really touched me, reminding me of why I love being Catholic so much and the community that comes with it. With those kind words from the usher after such a beautiful service, I left texting my par-ents about how happy I was. My parents are also so grateful to you as well for having given me the home I was search-ing for. I remember Father Gary saying once that he hopes St. Peter’s is a place of hospitality, and I can confirm that it is one of the best I’ve known. I have so much gratitude for your parish. I am looking forward to coming back in the fall and continuing to experience St. Peter’s in the two years I have left at USC. Thank you for being the wonderful parish that you are. Thank you for offering me the Catholic community I missed so much. Thank you for giving me a home away from home.