May 19, 2017

St. Malachy parishioner: ‘I knew I had found my faith. … My search is over’

Jessica Pierce, left, and her sponsor Peggy Uhrick stand at the foot of the cross in the sanctuary of St. Malachy Church in Brownsburg, where Pierce was received into the full communion of the Church on April 15. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Jessica Pierce, left, and her sponsor Peggy Uhrick stand at the foot of the cross in the sanctuary of St. Malachy Church in Brownsburg, where Pierce was received into the full communion of the Church on April 15. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

When Jessica Pierce moved away from her family in Greencastle to Brownsburg 13 years ago, it was too far a distance for her parents to take her to their Baptist church.

“I decided it was time to find my own church,” she says.

So for the last 13 years, in addition to trying other churches, Pierce periodically joined her roommate for Mass at St. Malachy Church in Brownsburg.

“I didn’t go a lot, but I went enough to feel comfortable,” says Pierce, 38. “I tried other churches for a long time, but nothing seemed to click.”

It was not until she joined her roommate in the Special Religious Development (SPRED) group at St. Malachy that Pierce eventually considered being received into the full communion of the Church.

“I like [SPRED] very much,” she says. “The people there are friendly. They help me get a sense of belonging.”

Once she joined SPRED, says Pierce, she started going to Mass more often. Peggy Uhrick, who assists with St. Malachy’s SPRED program, started to bring her to Mass weekly.

“I never know what [the priests] are going to talk about [during their homilies],” says Pierce. “A lot of times it hits home. Sometimes I don’t want it to hit home, but it does anyway.”

Between her experience with SPRED and going to Mass weekly, Pierce says “the friendship and love just fell into place,” and when she “walked [through] the Catholic doors, it felt like family. It felt like a friendship that I had never felt in any other church.”

It wasn’t just the feelings that drew her to the faith.

“When I learned more about the Church and Christ and the Virgin Mary, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—if you want the truth, it made more sense to me than the church I used to go to,” she says. “I figured if it makes sense, and it clicks, and I have a loving family [in the Church], that’s the way to go.”

During the Easter Vigil Mass, Pierce received conditional baptism—a sacrament administered when a person’s prior baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is suspected but cannot be verified.

She then received the sacrament of confirmation, taking St. Ann as her patron but spelling it “Anne” in honor of the middle name of her roommate and her roommate’s twin sister.

She says it “felt weird not to cross my arms” when receiving the Eucharist after 13 years of receiving a blessing instead of the Blessed Sacrament.

“I was focused on, ‘Am I doing it right? Do I cross my arms?’ ” Pierce admits. “Peggy told me it will feel weird at first. I said, ‘No, it won’t,’ but yeah, it did.”

Back at home that night, she says she wiped her forehead where she had been anointed with chrism oil during her confirmation.

“I smelled my fingers and they smelled like the oil,” she recalls. “I didn’t want to take a shower—I just wanted to savor the smell, because I knew it was a smell I’d never [have] again.”

The Easter Vigil Mass led to a well of thanksgiving for Pierce.

“It made me think of what [Christ] gave up for my sins. You couldn’t ask for anything more than what he did on the cross. It’s a blessing.”

And so is being Catholic, she says.

“After the Easter Vigil, I felt such a sense of relief. I knew I made the right decision.” Pierce pauses as she fights back tears.

“I knew I had found my faith with Christ,” she continues. “It was a long journey. My search is over.” †

 

Related: See a list of those received into the full communion of the Church since Easter

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