Local students attend private mass at St. Peter’s Basilica

Published 7:23 pm Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday, the Rev. P.J. Curley and 65 high school students from Vicksburg, had an experience most Catholics dream about.

Curley, the retired pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church, said a private Mass for the students at St. Peter’s Basilica at the altar of St. John Paul II in the chapel of St. Sebastian.

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“It will be a great pleasure,” Curley said Monday. “People have been telling me how excited they are to finally be going to celebrate Mass at St. Peters, and it’s just like the Mass at St. Michael’s Vicksburg; it’s just a different location.”

The students are members of a European tour led by St. Aloysius teacher Dawn Meeks visiting Germany, Switzerland, Italy and finishing with a cruise through the Greek Islands. They left June 7 and Curley flew to Rome to meet them earlier this week.

“I’m especially excited about being with all these young people I see in school every day,” Curley said, “And I’m looking forward to them showing me around, especially people who have been there before, coming to me and saying, ‘Father Curley you need to see this,’ ‘Father Curley, you need to see this.’ That’s what’s exciting to me.

“I have never been to Rome in my life; this is a first,” he said, adding he was looking forward to walking in the steps of St. Peter and St. Paul, “but I’m also looking forward to walking in the footsteps of Julius Ceasar and Mark Anthony and Brutus, and I’m also looking forward to imagining the Coliseum where they let the lions out on the Christians.“I’m looking forward to using my imagination to the greatness of the Roman Empire; how it collapsed, and how Christianity after all these thousands of years stood strong and tall, and I think that’s the power and the presence of God in our lives.”

The mass took place early Friday morning.

“It was an amazing and intimate experience to have mass in such a place with students, parents and Father Curley,” Meeks said. “I know it is something none of us will ever forget. To be able share an experience we have on a normal basis at school in the Vatican was incredible.”

Connor Clark ,who graduated from St. Al in May, served as the altar server for the mass, a role he has filled many times before for Curley at St. Michaels.

““It was a very special and inspiring once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to serve mass in the Vatican with Father Curley who is now retired but has been my priest for a long time,” Clark said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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