Many years ago, I enjoyed a CBS News bi-weekly series by Steve Hartman titled “Everybody has a Story,” featuring stories about ordinary people from around the country. With a child-like innocence and charm, Hartman would throw a dart at a paper map, point his finger at a listing in that town’s telephone book, and then blindly call that house to share the story of someone living there. From 1998 to 2004, he interviewed over 100 people. “His youngest subject was a 5-year-old boy from Tennessee who liked to float balloons to his grandma in heaven,” states the CBS News website. “His oldest was an 87-year-old woman from Louisiana who still does her son’s laundry.”
Everybody coming to The Basilica has a story too, with varied journeys and routes that somehow led them to this community of faith. My own cherished Basilica story began over 25 years ago, as a young adult just out of college and brand new to the Twin Cities. About a year later, I got engaged to a lifelong Catholic and started RCIA at The Basilica sponsored by my fiancé (now husband). He said experiencing RCIA together as adults, while also in the marriage preparation process, was an unexpectedly beautiful gift.
I quickly found a home of both comfort and joy at The Basilica. When RCIA completed and after our wedding, I truly longed to deepen my connection to this community. I joined the RCIA ministry team and started volunteering in evening Rectory hospitality. That led to me joining the staff in 1997 as the Special Events Coordinator, where I met many block party and event volunteers who continue to be friends to this day. I continued to volunteer in different ministries and programs throughout the parish.
We welcomed a son after years of hope and prayer. He was baptized at The Basilica and is developing his own Basilica story through experiences in faith formation classes, children’s choir, sacramental preparation, and serving our community as an usher, livestream, and event volunteer. We look forward to his confirmation later this spring.
When my son was young, I told a friend that we sometimes worshiped at our neighborhood parish that had a cry room, often alternating between that parish and The Basilica on Sundays. The friend asked, “Why don’t you just join that parish?” I gasped in response. “The Basilica is my home! It is where I belong and there are so many people whom I love there.”
Even when attending church elsewhere for a degree of convenience, my heart and spirit have always been here. Even when I feel frustrated about challenges in our Church, my heart and spirit are here. Where else would I go?
We started a video series last Lent sharing the stories and reflections of some members of our parish and will continue sharing the sacred stories of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Fr. Griffith speaks often of the power of storytelling. Knowing that everybody has a story, would you share the sacredness of your Basilica story with us? Please go to mary.org/story to tell us more and note if you’d be willing to participate in a written article or video as well.
Melissa Streit | Director of Engagement