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Berger 'grateful' for opportunity to lead St. Mary's

He took over Elm Grove parish in July

Sept. 19, 2012

The Rev. Peter Berger enjoyed his former job as the vocation director with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

But there was something missing, a void.

"My job involved a lot of desk work," Berger said. "It was good but I love being a parish priest and am much more of a community-oriented person. And I truly missed parish ministry."

He got an opportunity to return to parish ministry in July when he was named the parish administrator at St. Mary's Visitation in Elm Grove.

"This was my first choice," said Berger of his top three parishes he named during the selection process. "I really like the community here. I heard good things about the parish."

Berger said the church, which has more than 4,000 parishioners, had been without a full-time priest for about 15 to 16 months.

The 34-year-old priest comes to St. Mary's after having previously served as an associate pastor at Lumen Christi Catholic Church in Mequon for five years and a part-time chaplain at Pius XI High School.

Growing up, he and his family lived just a few blocks from St. Mary's and were members until he was 5 years old until they moved to a different part of Wauwatosa and joined St. Jude Parish.

So while Berger doesn't remember much about attending St. Mary's as a child, he's thrilled about returning to lead the parish ministry.

"I love St. Mary's," Berger said. "I'm so grateful to be assigned here. It's a wonderful community that has gone through a lot in the past few years."

He attended Wauwatosa East High School before entering the Saint Francis Seminary College Program and Marquette University, where he received a bachelor's degree in theology and philosophy. He then entered Saint Francis de Sales Seminary where he received his formation for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest on May 21, 2005.

"I feel like this was my calling and what God wanted me to do," Berger said.

He said what inspires him about St. Mary's is that "it's one of those parishes that people grow up in and stay with as they get older." Berger added that he's also encouraged by the increasing school enrollment and the youth and young adult ministry programs.

Berger is looking forward to meeting many more parishioners in the months to come. He had a chance this past weekend during a parish picnic.

"It was just a perfect day to gather as a community," Berger said.

At a Glance

WHO: The Rev. Peter Berger

AGE: 34

EDUCATION: St. Jude Grade School, Wauwatosa East High School, Saint Francis Seminary College Program, Marquette University and Saint Francis de Sales Seminary

FACT: Was ordained a priest on May 21, 2005

HOBBIES: Reading historical literature and watching old movies

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