May 18, 2018

‘I finally found my home’

College student, young adult and grandparent share their stories of being called to the Catholic faith

Catechumen Hannah Bach, 18, is guided into the baptismal font at St. Joseph University Church in Terre Haute by Conventual Franciscan Father Mark Weaver, the parish’s pastor, and her sponsor Sierra Flores during the Easter Vigil Mass on March 31. (Submitted photo by Bill Foster)

Catechumen Hannah Bach, 18, is guided into the baptismal font at St. Joseph University Church in Terre Haute by Conventual Franciscan Father Mark Weaver, the parish’s pastor, and her sponsor Sierra Flores during the Easter Vigil Mass on March 31. (Submitted photo by Bill Foster)

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 895 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: Welcome, new Catholics)

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.

Three of those special stories begin here:

‘I feel so grounded’

Hannah Bach knows she’s bucking a trend.

“I know a lot of people at this age turn away from Church,” says the 18-year-old freshman at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute. “A friend told me [that] in college your faith either grows or it dies. I didn’t want mine to die.”

And so it was that the Colorado native was received into full communion of the Church at St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute during the Easter Vigil Mass on March 31.

Despite one parent being an atheist and the other being an agnostic, Bach attended a Catholic high school “because the academics there were better than the surrounding schools.”

But Bach received more there than a good education.

“I met a lot of really awesome Catholics,” she says. “There are some Catholic families I know who are so much fun.

“And [the high school] did a good job of [teaching the faith]. … . We had some classes on defending the faith. Everything they said contradicted the stereotypical Catholic view, like, ‘They hate sex and hate gays.’ ”

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until Bach was a few months into college life that she considered pursuing Catholicism through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

“I think in some ways you have to hit rock bottom before you can start moving up,” she says. “Transitioning from home to school was really hard. Part of the first quarter I thought, ‘This is terrible.’ I was to the point where I needed to turn to something greater than myself. I thought, ‘God, I need you.’ ”

It wasn’t just her familiarity with Catholicism that inspired her to seek God through the Church.

“I had friends in other religions—Hindu, Christians, Muslims, atheists,” she says. “I definitely believed in monotheism. That made the most sense to me. I think it was part the Catholic faith and part Catholic people [that led to the decision]. I know some very loyal, steadfast, devout Catholics. You can’t have faith separate from the community. And I found I missed [the Catholic faith].”

When she joined RCIA at St. Joseph University Parish, she was already “75‑80 percent sure I wanted to be a Catholic. But I wanted to fill in some of the gaps. What I had in high school was more of a teen thing. I wanted to round out my understanding [of the faith].”

What Bach discovered did more than “fill in some of the gaps.”

“I feel so grounded,” she says of life after the Easter Vigil Mass. “Sometimes, I felt so far apart from things, just floating.

“I think there’s a very powerful connection with the supernatural, like something that’s just so beyond us [yet] we can personally come in contact with. Through the Eucharist, confirmation and confession, we just get closer and closer to God. That proximity is so important. I’m just in awe.”

Part of that awe turned into pure joy for Bach during the Easter Vigil Mass.

“Going to Catholic high school, I was instructed not to take Communion,” she recalls. When it was time for her to receive the Eucharist for the first time, she says, “I was like, ‘Yes! This is the way it should be!’ ”

When it comes to faith, Bach advises her college peers to “really think about what you want and what will make you happy in the long term. … It can be tempting to stay up late and miss church. But think long term, what God has set out for you. It’s up to you, but you have to be strong enough to choose.”

Bach says that, despite the intense time and work involved in pursuing a biomedical engineering degree, being welcomed into the full communion of the Church has left her with a “sense of being calm, a deep breath of relaxation.

“I’ve been moving toward this ever since I was a little kid. I finally found a home. That is so good to know.” †

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