WAUKESHA — Father Patrick Heppe, with the Catholic Community of Waukesha, was among the dozens who were injured during the Christmas Parade tragedy in Waukesha last month.
The Catholic Community of Waukesha is made up of four churches with nearly 14,000 members. Walking in the Christmas parade was an aim to bring their large congregation together.
"We came together, but we'd never thought we'd come together like this, and it wasn't just us. It was Waukesha," said Father Pat.
The group was walking just ahead of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies when the speeding SUV charged through the street. Father Pat has very little recollection of what happened next.
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"I believe the guy next to me was hit by the car and I believe I was kind of part of a human domino chain. I went back, hit my head on the pavement and I still remember what happened before that, but I don't remember the exact moment of falling backward."
He says he blacked out and suffered a concussion that sent him to the hospital.
"Was I angry? No. I was disappointed and frustrated, and I hold no animosity for the driver. Anger is one of those emotions that kind of creep in, and I think they prevent you from dealing with the situation in a way you have to deal with them."
As Father Pat continues to heal and lead the congregation at St. William Catholic Church, he believes it all begins with forgiveness.
"The combination I think of faith, family love, family support, and the community rallying. I think the sharing of experiences is going to help us deal with it, cope with it and be able to put it behind us," said Father Pat.