September 17, 2021

Evangelization & Catechesis Supplement

‘Twice blessed’: Couple’s love and faith grow in ministry together

(Editor’s note: While teaching and helping others to embrace a deeper appreciation of their Catholic faith, catechists throughout the archdiocese have found their own relationship with God has deepened through the experience. Here are several stories of that transformation.)

Jan and Paul Johnson found a deeper connection to each other in helping bring people closer to God. (Submitted photo)

Jan and Paul Johnson found a deeper connection to each other in helping bring people closer to God. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

The story of Paul and Jan Johnson is an uplifting one, touched by the love they have for each other, the surprising way they grew in their closeness to God, and their mutual desire to share their faith with others.

The couple met while Paul was serving in the U.S. Army and married a short time later. For Paul, a self-described “cradle Catholic,” it was his second marriage, his first one ending in divorce. The early years of his marriage to Jan were also a time in his life when he continued to be away from the Church.

“My wife was non-Catholic but very spiritual,” Paul recalls. “After about 13 years of marriage, she told me that she wanted to attend RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes] and maybe become Catholic. I sort of surprised her by telling her that I would go with her and maybe see how I could re-enter the Church.”

They went together to RCIA classes at St. Therese

of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) Parish in Indianapolis, an experience that transformed them individually and as a couple.

“She was confirmed, and I made the necessary steps for annulment of my first marriage,” Paul says. “After completing RCIA, Father Rick Ginther [then an associate pastor at Little Flower] asked us to be a part of the RCIA team. We were quite honored and humbled to serve.

“Neither of us realized that we would be involved with this wonderful ministry for more than 10 years. We probably learned more about our faith from the inquirers than we could from books. It was a joy to be with these people at a very important time of their lives.”

Moving to the west side of Indianapolis, they became members of St. Christopher Parish. They also began to serve as extraordinary ministers of holy Communion at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana.

“We conducted a Communion service a couple of times a week,” Paul says. “We met people with a lot to share—and received many blessings from this ministry. Of course, this ministry came to an abrupt end with the onset of COVID.  We hope someday to resume this ministry.”

The Johnsons say they have been “twice blessed” by their work with the RCIA classes and the Communion services. There are also the blessings from their marriage in the Catholic faith.

“We have been married 50 years and in 1988, after receiving my annulment, we were remarried in the Church in a nice ceremony that really began the strengthening of our marriage,” Paul says.  

“God has been really good to us.” †


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