A District Energy System spokesperson interviewed Maria Teresa Borrego, who works as an assistant to Father Jayd Neely at St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows Catholic Church.
DES: What does your role entail at St. Mary’s, and how long have you held this position?
Maria Teresa Borrego: I’ve held the position of assistant for five years, and I assist Father Jayd Neely. Before Father Neely, I assisted Father John Sims Baker. I organize the “human part,” administrative and maintenance duties, so Father can take care of souls.
As a parish, we are dedicated to helping the least of our brethren. We get many homeless and poor people through our doors, and we are fully engaged in helping these people. I hand out bus passes, we feed them with Subway cards, and we help them to get library cards, medications and resources.
My position as assistant is full of administrative and social work.
DES: What would you say is your favorite part about your job?
Maria Teresa Borrego: The social part. When I’m tending to the poor and needy, I ask them to tell me their stories to see how we can best help them.
DES: When was St. Mary’s of the Seven Sorrows built?
Maria Teresa Borrego: The building was erected in 1837, dedicated in 1847, and is the oldest standing church in Nashville. Our first bishop was Richard Pius Miles (Dominican priest). His body is still buried here in the sanctuary. In 1972, when the church was being overhauled, Bishop Miles’ body was exhumed in order that he might have a proper burial. Instead, they found that his body was incorruptible, and was just as it was on the day he was buried.
St. Mary’s did serve at one point as an infirmary for the Civil War – upstairs rooms.
DES: What makes St. Mary’s special or unique when compared to other churches in Nashville?
Maria Teresa Borrego: A few things:
- The celebration of the Eucharist. It is an extremely holy place where you can solely concentrate on the Eucharist.
- Some of our prayers of the liturgy are recited in Latin. Not many Catholic
churches have that.
- We have the most outstanding choir.
- Our organ is about 200 years old.
- The building in itself is truly sacred and unique.
- DES: What has been your favorite event to-date at St. Mary’s?
Maria Teresa Borrego: The funeral mass of one of our homeless friends, Theresa Pearson. She would sell The Contributor outside of St. Mary’s. She was very dear to our hearts. We didn’t realize that she was suffering from a disease; but when we found out, Vanderbilt operated on her free, and she died in hospice here at the church. Father John Baker gave her her last communion. Her funeral was standing room only. For someone who had been the poorest of the poor, it was so beautiful.
DES: Is there anything upcoming that we should know about?
Maria Teresa Borrego: Every month on the first Saturday, we have a special Mass and Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament.
DES: What are the biggest challenges you and the church face in the foreseeable future?
- As an old church, it costs thousands of dollars to maintain the building. We are constantly upgrading and updating. We have big budgetary concerns for our huge projects, but even the small projects are upward of $15,000.
- Continuing helping the least of our brothers. We are always needing bus cards and Walgreens gift cards.
All are welcome to come and see St. Mary’s!