Long before she burst into the public spotlight delivering her inauguration poem, Amanda Gorman got a standing ovation from fellow parishioners of St. Brigid Church in Los Angeles for reciting a poem she wrote about the parish.

And on Jan. 20, at the inauguration ceremony of U.S. President Joe Biden, parishioners watching this young woman on their TV screens — addressing political leaders and the nation at large about courageously rebuilding the country — applauded her all the more.

Floy Hawkins, former director of religious education at the parish for over 20 years, said her phone did not stop ringing after the inauguration, with friends asking if she saw, heard or knew about Gorman’s role.

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