Aspiring priests visit city

Published 4:15 pm Friday, August 16, 2013

The Camellia City recently served as the scene for an unusual sight as four cyclists made their way down East Commerce Street.

But instead of a finish line, their destination lay within the hallowed halls of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church.

St. Elizabeth served as one checkpoint for four aspiring priests on a statewide, 200-mile pilgrimage stretching from Auburn to just south of Fairhope.

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Auburn rider Jeremy Winter, Daphne rider Patrick Gilbreath, and Mobile riders William Jarvis and Daniel Davidson are seminarians of the Archdiocese of Mobile, and together they decided that the best way to get to know the numerous parishes and parishioners that comprise the southern half of the state was to visit them personally.

Greenville was the second of seven hosting cities on the trail and, after the 56-mile ride from Montgomery’s Holy Spirit Catholic Church, St. Elizabeth’s halls looked all the more welcoming.

Parish councilmember Mary Ann Hamilton was among those waiting to greet the cyclists as they entered the city, and said that their visit to the church was a revitalizing shot in the arm of energy to the church and its members.

“It was a thrill for us because, as one can imagine, there’s not a lot of Catholics in this area,” Hamilton said. “Our church as really grown a good bit in the last few years, and it was just a real thrill to see young people joining the priesthood and wanting to meet the people along the way.

“They were just a real personable bunch of guys, and everyone enjoyed talking to them and hearing their story.”

Hamilton added that the group was impressed with St. Elizabeth, its beauty despite its age and the interesting story of how the church came to be.

After being served breakfast the next morning, the four made their way to Monroeville for the next stop on the trail.

In the end, Hamilton said that the hosts were just as inspired and enlightened as their weary travelers.

“They seemed to really enjoy themselves, and they seemed to have a really great rapport with our youth and made an effort to try to connect with them,” Hamilton added.

“We had a great time, and we’re looking forward to one day having one or more be in charge of our church here in Greenville.”