Valentine’s Day: love it or hate it, every year it keeps coming back to remind us that love exists. Even here at USF, love can be found inside of our own Saint Ignatius Church.
The church, on any given weekend, hosts many weddings inside its doors. The romantic setting and old world charm of Saint Ignatius commands attention from engaged couples from all over the city, especially USF alumni. Rumors have long circulated about the church’s potentially decade-long wait list and the supposed priority for USF students. For those already visualising a wedding at Saint Ignatius or just curious about the rumors, the truth is about to be revealed.
So what is it like to fall in love at USF and seal the deal at our beautiful landmark church? Dan and Kelli Hoertz ’08 married at Saint Ignatius in August 2012, about eight years after they first met as freshmen students attending USF. Kelli shared the details of her and Dan’s journey to the altar, which began during their first year.
“We both lived in Hayes freshman year.” Kelli said. “We would see each other in the caf, at Koret, or at Geary bars.” With Kelli working towards her degree in psychology and Dan in business, the two never had a class together, but continued a friendship that would eventually evolve into something more while Kelli studied in Budapest junior year.
“We kept in contact while I studied abroad and then after I returned we began officially dating our senior year,” she said. Dan even visited Kelli in Budapest during her studies there. Four years after their graduation from USF, Dan and Kelli found themselves returning to plan their wedding at Saint Ignatius. The cost of a Saint Ignatius wedding reservation is $1,925.00 with a $1,000.00 deposit required 14 days before the big day.
Prior to their engagement, Kelli and Dan already knew they would wed at Saint Ignatius. “I was a resident minister at USF and that is where we are parishioner,” she said. After getting engaged in the city, Dan and Kelli started planning to make their vision of a wedding at Saint Ignatius a reality.
While many students may believe that there’s an 11 year waiting list to book a spot for a ceremony, Margaret Walden said it’s nothing but a myth.
“I have no idea how the wait-list rumor got started,” said the wedding coordinator at Saint Ignatius. In fact, the waiting list is only a year-and a half, as the Hoertzs found out while planning their wedding. “We got engaged in February 2011 and knew we wanted a long engagement,” Kelli said.
Even though Dan and Kelli didn’t have to face a decade of waiting, there was one compromise they had to make. The couple approached the church that February with a September 2012 ceremony date in mind, but settled on Aug. 18 because there were no more open spots.
Because Saint Ignatius is not a university church, weddings are not exclusive to USF students. There are some requirements, however, for those interested in getting married at Saint Ignatius.
The bride or groom must fulfill one of the following criteria: be a registered, active member of Saint Ignatius for at least six months before requesting a ceremony date, be a USF alum, or have a Jesuit priest who will perform the matrimony. USF staff can also wed in the church. Even if you attended USF, at least one person of the couple must be Catholic or Greek Orthodox, Walden said.
Although Saint Ignatius was built in 1914, the church officially became a parish in 1994, the same year it began conducting marriage. About 50-54 couples are married annually in Saint Ignatius, according to Walden.
Because Kelli and Dan Hoertz are both Catholic USF alums, Saint Ignatius was an easy choice, Kelli said. “We always knew we wanted to get married in that church. As students, we went to mass there and it was always special to us since we had met at the university, attended mass there, and graduated in that space. After we graduated we also continued to go to church there.”
While getting married may not be students’ most immediate concern, a wedding at Saint Ignatius might be in the cards someday. This landmark of USF held undeniable sentiment for the Hoertz’s.
“It has a special place in our hearts as it represents the place [where] we met, fell in love, and accomplished so much,” said Kelli. While marriage may seem like a figment of the distant future for current students, Kelli offered some advice for when the time finally does come to take the leap: “I would encourage all USF students to consider S.I. for their weddings!”