November 6, 2020

‘I felt God’s presence’

Bryan Stater, center, prepares to receive the sacrament of confirmation from Father Christopher Wadelton on June 14 at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus. His sponsor, Deacon William Jones, stands by at right. (Submitted photo)

Bryan Stater, center, prepares to receive the sacrament of confirmation from Father Christopher Wadelton on June 14 at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus. His sponsor, Deacon William Jones, stands by at right. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

Bryan Stater was raised in the Protestant faith and went on to earn an associate degree in Christian ministry from Indiana Wesleyan University.

So when he met his wife Sarah several years ago, he wasn’t ready to embrace her Catholic faith.

But he was willing to go to Mass with her at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus, both while they were dating and after they married.

“I was drawn to the welcome there,” Stater said of the parish. “I really loved the priest and the messages.”

As time passed, he felt more and more drawn not just to the parish but to the Catholic faith.

“I prayed about it all the time,” he said. “It’s difficult, changing churches. But every time I prayed about it, I felt like [the Catholic Church] was the place to be.”

Despite the busyness of helping raise his twin toddler sons (who will be 2 in December), working full time in corrections and studying for a bachelor’s degree in social work, Stater joined the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) classes at St. Bartholomew in the fall of 2019.

The experience confirmed his desire to be welcomed into the full communion of the Church.

“What really impressed me the most is you could see those helping were passionate about their faith,” said Stater.

He was also impressed by the Church’s 2,000 years of history and by the communion of the saints.

“I wasn’t used to the idea of saints,” he admitted. “But it was explained to me that they’re like examples to live by.”

It made sense, then, that Stater—with his background in ministry and desire to be a social worker—chose St. Regis for his confirmation saint.

“He was into helping the homeless,” Stater explained. “I really liked his story. He’s a good example for me to live by.”

When public Masses were suspended starting on March 18 to help stop the spread of COVID-19, “it was tough,” he said. “We always went to Saturday evening Mass. It felt weird with no Mass at all.”

What felt even worse was contracting the coronavirus, he said.

“Around March 19, I felt really bad before work, tired, achy,” Stater recalled. “They tested me, and I tested positive.”

Then Sarah, a nurse, also tested positive.

“We had to take care of the boys” despite feeling “terrible and weak,” he said. “When they napped, we napped. The boys ended up being fine.”

Both Bryan and Sarah were surprised by their recovery time.

“It took us each three weeks before we had our energy back,” he said. “It was about four weeks before things were back to normal.”

They were also touched by the kindness they received during their struggle.

“So many from church and friends and family checked on us,” he said with gratitude. “It meant a lot that people checked in and were willing to come by,” including parish pastoral associate and RCIA director Kathy Davis-Shanks, and his sponsor Deacon William Jones. “We felt so blessed.”

Easter came and went. RCIA classes continued online via Zoom “to continue our preparation,” said Stater.

He was full of joy when June 14 arrived. On that day, he was finally welcomed into the full communion of the Church when he received the sacraments of confirmation and Communion during a special liturgy.

During the Mass, Stater knew his prayers of discernment, the months of balancing a full schedule, the preparation and the wait were all worth it: “I felt God’s presence when I received the Eucharist.” †

 

Related: Delay in receiving sacraments due to pandemic did not dampen joy for new Catholics

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