YBC? (why be Catholic?)

YBC? (why be Catholic?)

February 2019

YBC? (why be Catholic?)

“When I met my Catholic wife in college, I was agnostic and not attending Mass or any other church service. We were married in the Church and had our children baptized, and as our kids grew older, I began to attend Mass with my family nearly every week. I remained agnostic and initially felt no great pull to the Church. Over time, though, Mass started to become something I looked forward to rather than just tolerated. The readings and homilies spoke of things that I recognized about myself and about the fallen world, though I would not have said it that way at the time. I was hungry for the Word and began going to Adoration, reading the Bible on my own and listening to a number of Catholic podcasts. I was engaged with the Word in some way nearly every day. This was the beginning of my conversion, which finally resulted in my joining the Church at the 2017 Easter Vigil.
The patience and quiet confidence of the Church were key factors in my becoming Catholic. My wife Julie and I dated for less than four years before marrying. As I have come to see it in retrospect, the Church quietly, but consistently, courted me for the first twenty-seven years I knew Julie. Had I been accosted to an altar call every time I walked in the door I would never have returned to Mass. The fact that the Church was patient and confident enough to quietly and consistently demonstrate beauty and speak truth drew me back every week, which, in turn, allowed me to come to that very truth and beauty.” – Tim Foley

YBC? (why be Catholic?)

“A few years back a popular book came out by Matthew Kelly, ‘Rediscover Catholicism’. As a convert, my story is the winding path to discovering Catholicism. I grew up in a Christian home and attended the same Baptist church as my grandparents. Church life was a priority in my family, and I learned early to love the Lord, learn the scriptures, and serve others. Later on, my career took me to Berrien Springs Michigan where I became a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church. Unfortunately, through the twists and turns of my spiritual journey, I developed many misconceptions about Catholicism. Things began to change when I moved to Rockford and married a wonderful Catholic man. Initially out of ignorance and prejudice, becoming Catholic was not in my plans. I was even hesitant to pick up my husband’s Bible because I was suspicious of the extra books that were “added”. (I did not know the true history of how my Protestant Bible evolved). Many years of our marriage were split between attending a Baptist church and Our Lady of Consolation. God had other plans for me, and the Holy Spirit was working in my life through so many people who were praying for me. I started listening to the CD’s of the Month, reading Catholic authors like Scott Hahn and Steve Ray, and watching EWTN. Meanwhile, my husband was always the Rock who never missed a Sunday Mass. I admired his faith and love for the church. As the layers of my erroneous views peeled away, I found myself looking at the church with different eyes. A big wakeup call came at my first Catholic funeral. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and hope found in that funeral. I could see the sacraments and Church teachings coming together – Baptism where our faith journey begins, the Eucharist where we are strengthened, prayers for the deceased as they are commended into God’s mercy, and prayers of comfort, hope and trust because the grave has been overcome by the death and resurrection of Christ our Lord. Shortly after that, I decided to attend RCIA. I am incredibly thankful for the dedicated leaders and my sponsor in that year of learning and growing. It took me a long time to discover the beauty of the Catholic Church, and now there is no place I would rather be, because it is here where I can receive the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.” – Cindi Knudsen, initiated into the Catholic Church, 2010.

YBC? (why be Catholic?)

“I guess my journey started over 15 years ago when my wife, then girlfriend, asked me to join her at mass. Fast forward to more recent years, all three of my children attend OLC school. After all these years of attending mass, last summer I decided to look into RCIA. I didn’t realize how much I was missing out on by just attending mass and not actually participating in mass. I had always listened to the readings, but now they took on new Life and meaning. I also didn’t realize how important it would be for me to receive communion. The idea that someone would give up their Blood and Body for our sins and our salvation is the greatest gift of all!” – Brian Petersen




YBC? (why be Catholic?)

“My journey to Catholicism began when my husband and I decided that we wanted to raise our family in a single faith. He had been raised Catholic/Jehovah’s Witness and I had been raised Seventh-day Adventist, but we decided to be open-minded and undertake a journey together to find common ground. After several years of visiting many different churches, we came to mass at OLC. That day Deacon Jim was preaching about how the church had undertaken to provide Catholic schooling without requiring tuition and instead took a leap of faith that the money would come. We were both very impressed by the church’s refreshing attempt to operate in a way similar to what I imagine the first churches after Christ did—trusting in their parishioners to act like true brothers and sisters in Christ and take care of each other. We also thought that mass at OLC managed to feel both very sacred and very warm and friendly, so we kept coming.

After several months, I started to do some research into Catholic theology to see whether I would feel comfortable joining the Church. Slowly, organically, I began to agree with more Catholic teachings than Protestant ones. I grew to appreciate the significance of the uninterrupted connection between Jesus and the Catholic Church, as begun by His appointment of Peter as the head of the Church. I began to ask why Christ would break this relationship with his Church after establishing it. Yes, the Protestant Reformation raised some important issues, but there has always been a measure of sinfulness latching itself onto God’s people, whether a golden calf in Israel, or the sale of indulgences for money in medieval Europe. But God did not abandon Israel, and God does not abandon His Church. His presence has persisted, despite our own failings, in propelling the church throughout the ages so that we may worship here today. What better way to remember this than to take part in the weekly celebration of the Eucharist, in which God shows us that He has always been with us, and will never leave us.”
– Juliana Rolecki, initiated into Church Easter 2018

YBC? (why be Catholic?)

We are all on a journey in life, either growing closer to God or away from him. I want to be the best Christian man, husband and father I can be. To live this way, I need to be a member of the Church that Jesus founded and receive Him regularly in the Eucharist.
As an adult I felt inspired to really delve into Catholicism to know my faith better. I understood that Jesus died for our sins, however, it seemed like something that happened long ago and I couldn’t really personalize it. Once I understood how we view time compared to how God views time, I realized that all is the present for Him. He sees our past and future all at once. Understanding this better, helped me to see Jesus’ passion differently. I began to appreciate how His sacrifice on the cross was for ME personally, now.
I was then better able to understand the significance of what Jesus did at the last supper and how the communion we receive today is the same as it was then. This is why I am Catholic.
As I approach Jesus in the Eucharist, I am thanking Him for giving this gift to me. When I am consuming the Host, I know that Jesus is physically entering my body and dwelling within me.
I once participated in a group veneration of the Holy Eucharistic. We were all on our knees around the altar singing praises to our Lord. As the priest walked among us holding the monstrance with his humeral veil, he invited us to touch his garment as he walked by.
When he walked in front of me holding our Lord, I reached up and touched his veil. At that very moment, I felt like someone dumped a pail of warm water on my head. I felt this tingling rush go from the top of my head down to my feet and was physically overcome with love and the Holy Spirit. I sat down and wept with joy. Any doubts I had that Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist were gone forever. I thank God for giving me that blessing.
We are so fortunate to be able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist in the Catholic Church. I can’t imagine life without regularly receiving this great gift.

YBC? (why be Catholic?)

“God was not subtle when he came knocking at my heart about eight years ago. It was more like He used a sledge hammer. I felt Him urging me to return to church – a place I hadn’t been since I was a small boy. Unfortunately, God gave me no directions on where I should begin my journey. Therefore, I started attending services at Pioneer Christian Reformed Church. The community was great, and I learned a lot from my time there, but Calvinism left me with many questions. Everything I read to try and answer these questions left me more puzzled. After about a year at Pioneer, I felt God once again urging me to move forward in my journey.
I felt the urging to begin attending Mass with my wife, Robin. At this time Robin, a lifelong Catholic, was attending weekly Mass with her mother at OLC. I began attending Mass, not understanding most of it, so I took it upon myself to learn about the Mass and even purchased a missal. Once I learned what was happening on the altar and why it was being done, I fell in love with the Mass and could not wait until I could partake in the Eucharist. About a year later, I entered the church on the Easter Vigil just before the birth of my daughter. Father Tony soaked me from head to toe at my Baptism in a sackcloth that I found to be actually very good at retaining Holy water. Ever since this time, I haven’t looked back as I know that I am home now in the Catholic Church. I still have many questions, but I find the Church has the answers if you just take the time to ask.” – Rick Vargo, initiated in Catholic Church on Easter Vigil, 2012

May 2018

YBC? (why be Catholic?)

“My journey back to the church of my baptism began with my relationship with my incredible and devout fiancée, Devyn, who started dutifully bringing me to mass with her every Sunday and reintroducing me to my Catholic faith. For me, RCIA was enriching and inspiring as I learned much more about the background of the Catholic faith, and the “why” behind everything we believe in. Although there is much I still have to learn, I am excited to have completed this first step to join fully into the Church. I would also like to send a huge thank you out to all of OLC, Father Tony, Father Stephen, and Amy Oatley for all of your prayers and support through my RCIA journey and beyond!”
– Andrew McMahan, initiated into Church on Easter Vigil 2018

YBC? (why be Catholic?)

“My journey toward Catholicism began seven years ago in college as a caregiver providing transportation to mass every week.  I became intrigued by the traditions, values and sacraments I was learning about. I started dating my husband around this time, and we eventually got married in the Catholic Church. In our marriage preparation class, we discussed the importance of a Christ-centered marriage for our family. Our Lady of Consolation has welcomed our family with open arms and blessed us in so many ways. Programs like Alpha and FORMED have helped my husband and I to connect on a deeper level to keep Christ front and center in our home. The RCIA program helped to me have an even deeper appreciation and gratitude for the richness of our faith and sacraments. I am honored and humbled by the sacraments, but mostly filled with joy in knowing that I can now pass down these beautiful sacraments to my children. My daughter will know the sense of overwhelming peace after having received Communion. When she needs grounding and clarity, she will know where to find it in the Word or Adoration Chapel.  She will hear gospel and teachings from the apostolic lineage of the priesthood. I cannot imagine a better gift to give my child than this beautiful gift Our Father has given us, His Church.”
– Lindsey Show, initiated into Church on Easter Vigil 2018

Dave Hemmerly Story

YBC? (why be Catholic?)

<em>“Who am I that the highest King, would welcome me, I was lost but He brought me in, Oh His love for me…”</em>

The above lyrics are from the song, <em><u>Who You Say I Am</u>,</em> by Hillsong. I have been listening to it during my travels, and these first few words hit home.

I was raised as a Methodist by my mom and dad, and as I grew older I migrated away from attending services.  As I got older I would justify not attending church with all of the same adages you have heard many times.   We moved to Rockford, June 30, 2013, and as I look back this was the beginning of my journey, even though I didn’t know it.

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In the summer of 2014, I started to attend Mass with Lorraine weekly.  Lorraine likes to sit in the front.  As time progressed, I began to understand why.  I watched the Mass, the altar servers, their commitment to getting it right.  I remember when Dcn. Andrew Ayers was our intern and the way he helped them.  Giving thumbs up, I could read his lips telling them, “good job”. I was impressed how much these kids knew about the Mass.   I began to enjoy the reverence of the Mass, listening to the homily, the music and the choir (another blessing of Mass and how fortunate we are to have them), listening to the readings, how Deacon Jim in his homilies uses everyday issues and how to apply God’s teachings to them.  But still I didn’t get it.

Over time, I have had the privilege to meet four priests at OLC, Fr. Tony Russo, Fr. Darrel Kempf, Fr. Peter Damien, and Fr. Stephen Durkee.  They would tell me about their belief in God, how they would be willing to give their life for Him.  They would answer my questions and, at different times and ways, ask if I had ever thought about becoming a Catholic.  My answer was always the same – not now.  What I didn’t realize was the seed they planted.  The homilies started to have more meaning and attending Mass felt right I attended three ALPHA sessions …never said I was a quick study!   Each time the conversation and videos had more meaning; the fact that the Bible has been proven to be authentic.   I started to understand that being a good Christian didn’t mean telling people you believed in God and going to church once in awhile.  During the third class, Julie Foley gave me 10 CDs from Father Larry Richards.  Thank you Julie!  Listening to these CDs and others explain their stories and what helps them become stronger in their faith helped me realize how far off target I have been.

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While working at the Veteran’s Home, I met two military veterans that I feel God used to talk to me.  One was the equivalent of a Deacon at his church.  He asked me if I read the Bible. I told him I did not because I could not understand the passages.  He came back in a few minutes with a Bible written in contemporary English.  He said if I had any questions to stop by his room and he would help explain it to me.  I didn’t think God could hit me a curve ball; guess I should have known better.  The second was a World War II veteran in his 90’s.   When I sat with him during his last days on earth, I noticed a plaque on the wall in his room.  It was his Catholic First Communion Certificate from 1936.  Of all his worldly possessions this was the one that meant the most to him and he carried it with him until he left for a better life.  God – 2, Dave – 0.

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I have learned about three different holy issues.  The first being the Holy Spirit; I still struggle with this one.  I’ve had a few times where I feel I’m beginning to understand.  This is why I will continue to attend RCIA and learn more.  The second is Holy Moments.   Mathew Kelly explained how the little things can provide the largest returns and how, at times, we Catholics can make our religion too complicated.  Mowing a neighbor’s lawn, buying a veteran lunch, are ways to show people the compassion of our faith; To always be a good example and not be afraid to share our faith with others.   Although I have never been, I have been told the third and final Holy is Father Tony’s favorite: The Holy Smoke.

RCIA has been a rewarding experience!  The staff at Our Lady of Consolation is wonderful!   Their knowledge of Catholicism is impressive.  This includes all of the folks that lead our dismissal and sessions after Mass.  Amy Oatley has been the back bone of this journey.  I hope to someday have the knowledge and commitment to my faith that she has.  I also want to thank the parishioners of Our Lady that provided encouraging comments over the last nine months.   I have not always been sure this was the right thing for me to do.  Your words helped me focus.  You folks sure read a lot!   God – 3 Dave – 0!

I asked to receive my First Communion in May.  I did this because I wanted my son and granddaughters to be part of this day.  This is how important I now realize this day is.  I want them to see that having God in your life will make it better, more fulfilled, and more loving.  God blessed me with a wonderful son, and two loving granddaughters. For that I am grateful.  I have been married to Lorraine for 43 years.  She has been at my side during the good and bad.  She continues to honor the wedding vows we made in 1976. She is a fighter and has overcome many obstacles.  I have watched her grow in her faith. This has helped me during the last nine months.  You need to know that when we moved to Rockford she placed a green scapular under my mattress.  With her help, I know I can become more dedicated to my faith.  If I’m lucky God will allow us to grow older together!

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Final score God 4, Dave Learning.  From my heart thank you Our Lady of Consolation Parish!

Dave Hemmerly

Welcomed to Christ’s Table on May 19, 2019