Living the Faith: Peter and Mary Skipper

DORCHESTER -- Most Sundays, Peter Skipper is a familiar sight in his Dorchester neighborhood. Accordion slung over his shoulder, Skipper walks to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish to play for the children’s Mass.

“I love that we’re a Dorchester parish,” he declared. “As far as worship goes, I like that there’s such diversity.”

“The stew is richer,” he added. “There’s more flavor with more variety.”

Skipper, 61, and his wife of 10 years, Mary Skipper are active parishioners at Blessed Mother Teresa’s. Both Peter and Mary are lectors. The couple is involved in parish fundraising and Peter and his youngest son are members of the parish pastoral council. Together with his children, they built the parish creche -- the “Skipper family creche” as Peter calls it.

“I’m not really good at any one thing so I try to spread out and do many things,” he joked.

“When someone says to me, ‘Skip can you do this,’ I always try. If I can, I do it,” he said.

“Whatever the parish has needed, we have made ourselves available,” added Mary.

The Skipper family first became involved at St. Margaret Parish, which would later become part of Blessed Mother Teresa Parish, during a very difficult time in Peter’s life. Peter’s first wife, Cindy Skipper, lost her fight to breast cancer in 1993, leaving him with three young children. Peter recalled the difficulty of that period.

“I struggled through that whole time,” he said.

In 1998 Peter met his current wife, Mary, whom he called “an absolute godsend.”

The couple was wed one year later at St. Margaret Church, and has been involved there ever since.

“It’s been a wonderful place for us, for our family,” she said. “Not only do you give to it, it gives to you.”

When St. Margaret’s was merged with St. William Parish in 2004, the Skipper family continued to worship at the newly renamed Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish.

“Merging the parishes just brought us more diversity and a much bigger family,” Peter said.

Both Peter and Mary Skipper praised the youth program of the parish.

“Education runs deep for us,” Mary explained. As principal of a Boston public pilot school, TechBoston Academy, Mary explained that she sees the need for youth outreach.

“Kids are what it’s all about,” Mary, 41, said. “I feel really blessed that we have had such an involved parish.”

Peter, a religion teacher at Boston College High School in Dorchester, agreed.

“My best worship and community experience is when I am involved,” he said, “and it is the same with young people. If it is a part of them, then they feel more connected.”

Peter believes that the youth involvement in the parish is part of what has kept their children active in the Church.

“We have very service-oriented children,” he said.

Currently the oldest daughter is in Argentina, teaching in a small farming village. Their second child is studying at Harvard and has traveled to Central America with Habitat for Humanity to build houses for families in need. Their youngest son, who graduated from Boston College High School this year, has volunteered in many parish-sponsored events.

“I am very happy that we have raised very involved young people,” said Peter.

He added that he is “also very pleased to see that we have been able to pass our faith onto the kids.”

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Dorchester

Year established -- 2004

Pastor -- Father John Ahern

Parochial Vicars -- Father Richard Conway,

Father Huy H. Nguyen

Pastoral Associate -- Linda Ballard

Business Manager -- Heather McNally

Music Directors -- Sheldon Lee, Michelle McCourt

Youth Ministers -- Karen Hurley, Heidi Jones