My name is Terri Fleming
I have been a member of St. Clare Parish for 31 years when I married my husband Ed.
I was born and raised in Mt. Clemens, Michigan the youngest of 5 children. I have 3 sisters and 1 brother. I was baptized Ann Terese Kaltenbach. My nickname is Terri because my brother wanted a boy and so he started calling me Terri.
My mother was raised Baptist and my father was raised Roman Catholic. My parents eloped and shortly after, their marriage was blessed at St. Peters church in Mt. Clemens. My mother promised to raise her children Catholic and she did.
I went to public school for elementary and attended CCD at St. Mary’s Mt. Clemens. In the 7
th grade I was enrolled in St. Mary’s and attended school there through 9
th grade when the high school was closed. A group of us from St. Mary’s and St. Louis were then bussed to St. Lawrence in Utica. Once again, the high school closed and I then attended and graduated from Mt. Clemens High School.
Like many young people my Catholic faith took a back burner for a while until I married in 1979. I was married at St. Peters and 2 years later found myself in a divorce situation.
This was an ah hah moment.
I could not imagine worshipping God in any other faith. If I am divorced I cannot go to communion or celebrate any other sacraments. I scheduled an appointment with my pastor at St. Peters and he informed me I had to get a civil divorce first before I could proceed with my annulment in the church. As soon as my divorce was final I started my annulment process.
During this time, I met Ed on a blind date, which happens to be 34 years ago tonight. We dated exclusively for a little over a year and he proposed. Ed was impatient and wanted to get married. Because my annulment was not final we were married at First United Methodist church in September of 1984. Ironically, my annulment was finalized the month before the wedding so we married here at St. Clare on December 29
We began our married life in Warren, Michigan hoping to soon start our family. God had another plan for us and we adopted our two sons Eddie and Stephen. We lived in Harrison Township when our oldest son Eddie was diagnosed with Autism. At that time Autism was just starting to be recognized in schools. Eddie needed more help and understanding in school and the CCD program then he was getting, so we moved to Grosse Pointe. The Grosse Pointe schools had already started programs to help Autistic children adapt to the world around them.
St. Clare had started an awesome Sunday CCD family program which allowed us to learn as a family and be together. It also allowed me to help educate Eddie through his Sacrament of Confirmation hands on.
In 2007 Ed was laid off after 23 years in the automotive industry. The car companies and suppliers were hit hard when the country went into a recession. Times got tough but I was fortunate to still have my job. Ed was able to work but not a consistent job. I remember when people asked how we were doing I would say, “I can’t worry about it, I am just going to give it to God”. My mother always said “Never underestimate the power of prayer.” I prayed a lot and God always came through.
Ed became more involved at St. Clare. He was asked to be part of a new committee called Participation, Involvement and Commitment or PIC. This was right up his ally. Helping to plan fundraiser’s for the church. He also joined Christian Service. I was not as involved because I took on a part-time job along with my full time job and also, I don’t like to step out of my box. I am a sit in the back of the church person. As time went on we were both asked to be Eucharistic Ministers and next thing I knew I was asked to help out at the 6:00 Sunday evening Mass as a Sacristan. I remember being scared of making mistakes. What if I do something wrong? What if I drop something? Once again, “Never under estimate the power of Prayer”. God and the Holy Spirit help me through.
Last summer we purchased a Baskin Robbins franchise with another partner. This enables our son Eddie to learn and work at the store and interact with people. He is doing a great job. Because Ed is at the store most of the time I have joined PIC committee and Christian Service. I no longer work my part time job and I fill him in on what is going on.
I still don’t like to step out of my box, but ever since Father Andrew and Father Tom came to St. Clare (they are a little pushy) I am feeling more comfortable. They have created an environment that makes you want to reach out and help. I am still not always comfortable but as time goes on I am learning and living my faith more and more.
Every day I get a little stronger.