Audrey Altepeter: Finding a second home at St. Anselm
Sep 21, 2018
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Parishioner for: 30+ years
When Audrey Altepeter and her husband, Marty, became members of St. Anselm Parish more than 30 years ago, they joined because Marty is a Priory alumnus.
They stayed because of the home they found here.
A mother of six children now ranging in age from 24-38 years old, Audrey has served over the years as a PSR teacher, an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, and now the chairwoman of the Women’s Fellowship, among other things. Less visibly? She faithfully takes care of the plants around the Parish Center and its grounds.
Q. Why did you initially decide to become part of St. Anselm Parish?
A. “At the time, it was because of the foundation of my husband going to school [at Priory], and how much the monks remember you—you’re introduced to them one time, and it’s like they know you the next time you come. They would actually ask a personal question, and it’s like, oh my gosh, they remember!”
Q. How did you become involved in the life of the Parish?
“Over time, I just started volunteering and taking part in activities, attending Bible studies, attending one-day events. And then, a little bit more was when one of the former [secretaries] left, and I started to notice that there were a lot of dead plants. And I went into the office and said, ‘Would it be OK if I kind of take care of the plants?’ and they said sure! That kind of blossomed, and then I became a Eucharistic Minister, and then here I am as Women’s Fellowship chairwoman.
"I had no experience doing this, but volunteering at other places—I was a Girl Scout leader, and a volunteer room mom, and I was a co-chair for the auction at Viz, helped out at the Priory auctions, that kind of thing. So, I kind of had activities like that, but I was never 'in charge, in charge' of a group like I am now.”
Q. Why did you feel called to lead the Women's Fellowship?
A. “Because Linda Borchardt asked me! I enjoy the activities, I enjoy being with people...I enjoyed talking with people but had never really done a lot of talking in front of people for a lot of things. So, this required me to develop a comfort getting up and saying things, and hopefully having women feel comfortable enough to step forward and do more activities. Now, we do have a blossoming interest group.”
Q. How do you feel that your leadership position in the Women’s Fellowship and the connections you’ve made through the parish have contributed to your spiritual life?
A. “It’s almost like I can put my car on autopilot. This is like a second home, in that I can come by, I have a good relationship with the staff here, and so I feel very comfortable here. As far as spiritually, taking care of the flowers, especially in the Worship Space—you know, sometimes I’m there kneeling, and I go, ‘Well, here I am again, dear Lord.’ It’s just very comfortable being in the Worship Space and being around people who share in the idea of spreading the Good News and being comfortable with doing that. As a PSR teacher, I make the kids aware that just one thing they do can mean so much and inspire other people."
Q. Why do you feel that this gathering of women in the Women's Fellowship is important to the Parish and to the spiritual lives of the women?
A. “I’ll tell you that lots of times, people maybe don’t share personal struggles, but I have actually seen where someone will mention--even briefly--a difficulty or stressful situation, and then somebody else chimes in, and then someone else chimes in, and then all of a sudden, even though you’re in a crowd, you don’t feel isolated, and you find people that share similar difficulties. It does provide comfort, and it does provide you with the opportunity to share and even get encouragement and maybe even help fill in a void--that you couldn’t get an answer, but someone else within the group has a possible answer, and it helps to make your situation a little better.
“And then the camaraderie that occurs. And camaraderie not just with the old friends who just strengthen their relationships, but there are new people who have come to the gatherings and suddenly their comfort level of being a stranger transitions into being a member and feeling that comfort and seeing a face and remembering, oh yes, we spoke at the last activity or whatever it was. To be remembered for that. I do think that is a spiritual thing, because you’re seen as a valuable person.”
Q. If you spoke to someone who was thinking about joining St. Anselm, what would you tell them about the Parish?
A. “It’s just like home. People are very welcoming, and there are lots of activities, so it’s very difficult to say hey, there’s nothing going on in our parish. And I mean truthfully, it has expanded a lot. As a matter of fact, as I’m cleaning at home, I’ve been discovering bits and pieces—old bulletins that were only two pages. Now, there’s lots of pages and lots of activities. We’re building awareness of all the different things that we can be involved in, in nurturing our own community but also stepping outside our community and helping."
“...As a Parish, I like the aspect of just saying, here are the things that we do. You can't force someone to come take part, but just saying, come experience the Family Mass, just come experience Adoration or our monthly Encounter. Just come and try different things and see what fits with what you’re looking for. I do think that as an individual, there might be certain things that you’re looking for to fill a spiritual gap or whatever, so that’s what I would say to them.”
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