As a student at St. Joseph’s Academy, Kathleen (Kat) Peek embodied the mission of faith development, academic excellence and personal growth. In fact, this 2011 graduate was one of two dozen graduating seniors who received the SJA Award, presented by the administration and faculty in recognition of those who especially espouse the spirit and values of sanctity, joy and action. Nine years later, Peek is returning to her alma mater as its campus minister.
“I recognize that I stand on the foundation that SJA gave me, and I am excited to return that gift in my new role,” she said.
As an SJA senior, Peek was chosen by her classmates, faculty and staff to participate in the annual May Crowning ceremony, and she served as a Student Minister. She received the Courtney Myshrall Memorial Award, presented to the senior who is kind-hearted, nonjudgmental, outgoing and joyful.
An outstanding student, Peek was named to the LHSAA All-Academic Division 5A Cross Country Team and earned an SJA honors diploma.
She represented her class on the Student Council as a junior and senior and was a four-year member of the cross country team. At the end of her SJA career, her classmates voted her Best All-Around in the Senior Favorites balloting.
After graduating from SJA, Peek went to Clemson University, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in architecture with a minor in art. After graduation, she served two years with Fellowships of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at the University of Miami, leading Bible studies, mentoring students and equipping them to teach others about the faith. While in Miami, she also led a mission trip to Mexico City, and she taught students to raise funds to fully subsidize their participation in mission trips and conferences.
When her service with FOCUS was complete, Peek moved to Pascagoula, Mississippi, where she taught second grade while earning an M.Ed. from Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program. During her two years in the Diocese of Biloxi, she founded a young adult Bible study and volunteered with high school and middle school youth ministries. After completing her studies in July 2019, she moved to Denver, Colorado, to teach third grade at Frassati Classical Catholic Academy. She will begin her new role at SJA with the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
Principal Stacia B. Andricain said she is always delighted to welcome an alumna back to campus as a member of the faculty or staff. She said she has fond members of Peek as a student, “and I know she will be a wonderful and welcomed addition to the Campus Ministry office,” she said. “She has had some unique experiences in ministry since leaving SJA, and I look forward to seeing how those experiences and her love of SJA and the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph blend together to create faith opportunities for our girls.”
“SJA nurtured the seeds of faith within me through fostering a disposition of service to the dear neighbor,” Peek said. “Whether it was serving as a Student Minister, praying in the chapel on Fridays before cross country meets or helping a friend perfect the uniform swap technique for Challenge Day, SJA always encouraged me to serve Christ in my neighbor. When I look back on my faith formation at SJA, I am filled with gratitude for the incredible community and opportunities for the sacraments. God reached and formed me through the deep friendships I gained at St. Joseph’s, many of whom are still my closest friends today. These women have accompanied me, encouraged me and challenged me in my journey with Jesus Christ. I am deeply grateful to SJA for being the ‘rich soil’ for our friendships and faith to blossom, and now I’m equally grateful to return as campus minister to tend to the spiritual growth of future graduates.”
Peek said she is especially looking forward to helping young women discover who they are and who God created them to me. There are many voices telling young women who to be, Peek said, and she is passionate about forming them in the faith to help them see who they are in God’s eyes. “St. Catherine of Siena said, ‘Be who God made you to be, and you will set the world on fire,’” she said. “I am looking forward to praying with, listening to and accompanying SJA women as they set the world ablaze with that ‘Stickah Fiya.’”
Outside of work, Peek loves playing the guitar, meeting new people, visiting (and sketching) beautiful churches, hiking, painting, drawing and reading. She also has a little-known agrarian leaning. While teaching in Pascagoula, she helped with the school’s chicken coop. “I hope to have my own chickens and a big garden someday,” she said.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photo courtesy of Kat Peek