For vowed religious, ministry often continues long past when most people would retire. Father Gerald “Pete” Peterson, the oldest Glenmarian living at age 93, continues to provide sacramental access in his golden years by celebrating Mass at Maple Knoll Communities, a retirement home near Glenmary Home Missioners headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.
A Glenmary Home Missioner for more than 70 years, Father Peterson’s pastoral career included assignments in seven states. He moved to his retirement community in 2021, and immediately volunteered to assist the Spiritual Life Department.
Maple Knoll Village Chaplain Reverend Nancy Villaboy-Allphin said Father Peterson’s Mass attendance continues to grow. Roughly 10 people attend his Tuesday Masses, but sometimes more than 20 are present on Saturday evenings. For Father Pete, who once celebrated Midnight Mass on Christmas for a congregation of one worshipper plus himself, 20 is a good crowd.
He celebrates Mass privately the other weekdays, and worships with the Glenmary community at headquarters on Sundays. Glenmary Brother Virgil Siefker assists Father Pete at Mass.
“A special moment that stands out was when one of our residents wanted to be baptized,” Villaboy-Allphin said. “Father Pete met with her to prepare, and her adult children were able to be present when their mother received the sacrament of baptism. Father Pete has been and continues to be a blessing to many of his neighbors and staff at Maple Knoll Communities.”
“I value the Mass, and if I can, I want to celebrate it,” Father Peterson said. “It’s always meant a lot to me, and it still does.”
In addition to being the oldest living Glenmarian, Father Pete has the distinction of being one of just Glenmarians men who personally the society’s founder, Father William Howard Bishop.