By Deacon Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross
Father Trevor Peterson, who was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Daniel Felton June 4, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, had already seen a bit of life by the time he entered seminary.
Born to the late Wendell and Marilyn Peterson in Detroit Lakes, the 39-year-old priest went right to work doing a variety of jobs — working a bread route, serving as a DJ, running a DJ company, and working as a sound technician for local bands, work that took him to St. Cloud.
He also ended up working for Bernick’s Pepsi, which is what brought him to Duluth. It was that move that also brought him back to church.
Father Peterson said his family practiced the faith growing up but that he stopped going to church when he moved out on his own. But when he came to Duluth in 2009, “something inside me said to go to church,” he said.
When he was moving in, his aunt asked if he wanted to go to church, and he took it as a further sign. He ended up at St. John the Evangelist in Woodland, where he met Father Rich Kunst and began to be fascinated by his apologetics-oriented homilies and grew more interested in learning more about his faith.
One homily that made a particular difference to him was an invitation to go to one daily Mass a week. “So I started going to daily Mass,” he said.
That’s how God started him growing more deeply in faith. He also picked up the rosary his grandmother had given him that had been blessed by Pope St. John Paul II.
Then one day the word “seminary” came to mind — he didn’t really even know the meaning of the word — and at a mixer for new parishioners, a man also walked up to him and told him if he ever thought about seminary, talk to Father Kunst, who was vocation director at the time.
“That’s all he really said,” Father Peterson said.
He decided to approach Father Kunst but ended up finding it surprisingly difficult, something he was nervous and fearful about. One night as he was trying to fall asleep, he even experienced a kind of pressure he attributes to his Guardian Angel or the Holy Spirit, until he finally exclaimed he would ask the priest the next day.
He hit send on the email to arrange the meeting. “That was such a relief, knowing that I cannot take that email back,” he said.
Soon he was visiting Immaculate Heart of Mary seminary in Winona. It took a while, but after two or three months, he finally said yes to going there himself.
But that was when his mom called and told him she had cancer, and he had to make a choice to follow through with seminary five or six hours away from his mom or to back out. He chose to stick to his yes.
“God gave me the necessary time to visit Mom,” he said. He was able to visit at holidays and through the year. When she died in June 2012, he was “there at her side when she was dying.”
But there was another twist on the road. “I discerned out in my fourth year in October of 2014,” leaving the seminary but staying to finish his degree “just in case.”
He moved to Rochester, where he became a realtor and then a bus driver, also helping out at a church there.
It was Bishop John Quinn who stuck with him, as Bishop Felton noted in his ordination homily.
“Everything that Bishop Felton was talking about Bishop Quinn was true,” Father Peterson said, calling him a “bulldog.” Father Peterson came to realize he had made a mistake in discerning out. He found a spiritual director who helped him sort things out.
He finally had an hour and a half meeting with the late Bishop Paul Sirba. “After talking with him, I said yeah, I think it’s time to go back into the seminary,” Father Peterson said.
Father Peterson’s first assignment is at Blessed Sacrament in Hibbing, where he will be parochial vicar, serving with Father Daniel Weiske, the priest he chose to vest him at his ordination Mass. He said he’s known Father Weiske since seminary and spent his transitional diaconate year with him in Brainerd.
Neither of them have been assigned in Hibbing before.
“We’re going to be kind of going in there together,” he said.
Father Peterson said his early time as a priest has almost been a kind of after party, and he’s now seeing a new stage of life right in front of him and appreciating being part of the diocese’s priestly fraternity.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “A lot of comfort, a lot of joy.”
Father Peterson said his life experiences have brought a lot of negatives and a lot of blessings, and he aims to fulfill his duty as God calls him, staying close to the Blessed Mother.
“Don’t be surprised if I talk about the Blessed Mother a lot,” he said.