May 19, 2017

‘God was speaking …’: From family ties to friendship, new Catholics share their stories of faith

Father Dennis Duvelius, pastor of St. Mark and St. Paul parishes in Tell City, baptizes Ethan Maffia during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Paul Church on April 15. (Submitted photo)

Father Dennis Duvelius, pastor of St. Mark and St. Paul parishes in Tell City, baptizes Ethan Maffia during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Paul Church on April 15. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

As the Church marks the resurrection of Christ at Easter, it also welcomes new members who enter into their own new life as Catholics.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis welcomed 881 souls into the full communion of the Church on Easter weekend through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) in parishes throughout central and southern Indiana. (Related: See a list of those received into the full communion of the Church)

Each new member brings a rich story of their call to Catholicism. Each bears the touch of God calling them closer to him in union with the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church founded by Christ.

Here are a few of those special stories:

‘God was speaking to all of us’

When looking at the story of how Sherry and Mike Owen and Sherry’s mother Margaret “Louise” Krick came into full communion of the Church, it would seem that Catholicism is contagious.

It started with Sherry, who received the sacraments of the Eucharist and confirmation last August.

But the beginning of the process for Sherry goes back 18 years when her husband was baptized as a Christian and he received a Bible.

She noticed “something by Maccabees,” she says. “I said, ‘Mike, those aren’t in our Protestant Bible.’ ”

She started to question her Catholic friends about the faith. After some time of not going to church, Sherry attended a Good Friday service with a Catholic friend three years ago. Then she joined her friend in a Catholic Bible study.

“I’ve been interested in [Catholicism] ever since,” says Sherry.

She enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at St. Mary Parish in Rushville in the fall of 2015. After waiting on an annulment for her husband’s prior marriage, Sherry entered into full communion in the Church last August, receiving the sacraments of the Eucharist, confirmation and having her marriage with Mike convalidated.

When she joined RCIA, she says Mike told her he would not join the Church, but that he would support her.

But over time, says Sherry, “He ended up softening quite a bit”—so much so that he enrolled in RCIA at St. Mary last fall, intent upon being received into the full communion of the Church.

Witnessing Sherry, 58, on her journey into the Church was not all that influenced Mike, 70. Their Catholic friend and Sherry’s sponsor Debbie Bruce gave Mike a book about Father Emil Kapaun, a priest whose heroic virtue during the Korean War has led to a case being opened for his cause for sainthood.

“He really impressed me,” says Mike, a Vietnam War veteran. “When a man can go on his deathbed and can forgive his captor—Father Kapaun showed me the faith of Jesus.”

Meanwhile, Sherry’s mother had long been fascinated with Catholicism.

“For years, I’ve had several wonderful Catholic friends,” she says. “I always admired their devotion to their faith. … When I would go with them to Mass, what really stood out to me was the Eucharist. I really wanted to receive it.”

So Mike asked Krick to attend RCIA classes with him.

“I meant it as a joke,” he says.

But Krick actually considered it, although she admits that she “hemmed and hawed” over the decision because at the time she was a deacon in the Christian church where she worshipped.

She ultimately decided to join him—just “for more information” about the Church, she says.

Every Sunday morning for nine months, Krick, 78, learned about the Catholic faith with her son-in-law.

“The more I went, the more I realized I believed it—the more I needed it,” she says.

When the RCIA instructor asked her about six to eight weeks before the Easter Vigil if she wanted to be received into full communion of the Church, Krick had long passed the point of just seeking “more information.”

“I told him, ‘There’s no way I’d take all these classes and not go in. I believe the Lord has laid it on my heart to do this, and I feel blessed to be able to do this.’ ”

She described the St. Mary’s Easter Vigil as being “like God came down and was right among us—that’s how close you could feel the presence of God.”

And as for the Eucharist she had desired when she went to Mass with her friends?

“When I [received] my first Communion, I felt like I was part of the Church,” she says. “I had missed it all those years.”

Mike fully agreed with the joy of receiving the real presence of Christ.

“Receiving the Eucharist was just awesome,” he says. “I was counting the days. I just couldn’t wait.”

Even though it’s been nine months since Sherry received her sacraments, she says she still “just can’t wipe the smile off my face. My friends say I’m just glowing.”

From Sherry’s experience inspiring her husband to join RCIA, to Mike inviting his hesitant mother-in-law to attend RCIA classes with him, Mike sees the hand of God.

“God works in strange ways,” he says. “But God was speaking to all of us.” †

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