Charlotte, North Carolina
St. Peter Catholic Church is a small oasis of serenity and beauty in the heart of Charlotte’s uptown business district. Founded in 1851, it is the oldest Catholic parish in Charlotte and has been staffed by the Jesuits since 1986. St. Peter’s congregation is a diverse mix of old and young, native Charlotteans and the newly settled, who represent St. Peter’s rich past, vibrant present and promising future.
It has been said that when Charlottteans watched the laying of the church’s cornerstone for the original St. Peter’s Catholic Church in 1851, they saw the cornerstone of Catholicism in Charlotte put into place. For 90 years it was the only Catholic church in the city. The original building stood for 41 years before it became structurally unsafe due in part to ammunition explosions at the close of the Civil War, which had damaged the foundation. In 1893 the cornerstone was laid for the building that now stands.
Today, St. Peter’s boasts a number of ministries, but perhaps the most unique is its St. Fiacre Ministry. When the Jesuits came to St. Peter’s, a long-standing parishioner, Tim von der Embse, had a vision and a passion to turn the broken blacktop parking lot into a green space for prayer, meditation and fellowship. In 2006 a group of local business people implemented his idea as a service project. Landscape, materials and supplies were all donated. In April 2007, St. Peter’s backyard had been greened, and a new useful space was created for the parish.
Parishioners hold garden parties seasonally to maintain and enhance the gardens. The continued mission of the St. Fiacre Ministry is to nurture the gardens as a place to rest, prayerfully ponder and engage in fellowship while enjoying its splendor.