Three years ago, on April 7, 2007, at Easter Vigil, I was baptized, confirmed and received first Eucharist from Fr. John — officially entering the Catholic Church.
Prior to that, I first stepped foot inside St. Anastasia on January 14, 2007. I didn’t have a clue what was going on, but the day before on Saturday, I had woken up and said, “I’m going to be Catholic!” Rather a startling thing to say, because I’d been atheist/agnostic my entire life and had no idea what I was getting myself into.
So I Googled “Catholic church Troy” and came up with websites for two churches: St. Anastasia and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. I wasn’t particularly impressed with either website at first glance, but decided to go to St. Anastasia the next day, noting that the first Mass was at 8:15 am.
Why did I pick St. Anastasia?
Because I had gone to Troy High, and St. Anastasia was right next to Athens High. I figured that if I went to SEAS, as it was closer to my high school, I’d have a much greater chance of running into the parents of my high school classmates, who would then, of course, point me out immediately as a fraud for having dared entered a church.
I rationalized that if I didn’t like it at St. A’s, then I could always try SEAS the next week.
So, I went to Mass and sat in the very last benchy-thing. I didn’t go up in that line everyone else was getting into for communion, but stayed glued to my chair. After it was over and everyone was starting to leave, I went up to an usher and, mustering all the courage my scared little self had said, “How do you join?” The poor guy looked terrified that I had asked him this and said, “Uh…. Let’s find Father!”
In my head, I was like, “Oh no! Don’t bother HIM! Isn’t there some flunky I could talk to instead?” But I obediently followed the usher in solemn procession as we tried to find this “Father” person. The usher kept saying things like, “He was just here a minute ago….” And I so desperately wanted to tell him thanks, but nevermind, but I felt bad because I had already taken up several minutes of his time and felt obligated to stay until he had completed his mission.
Finally, we find him, and I find myself staring up, way up, at this man in vestments, who says something like, “Hi! How can I help you?” I look frantically at the usher, as if to say, “I told you; YOU tell him!!” I could swear the guy looked at me like, “Hey, I found him for you. You are on your own now. See ya.” Oh boy.
The Father was still standing there, expectantly. I looked up again and said, “How do you join?”
He smiles, “Oh! You went to the wrong Mass!”
I felt my eyes get big as I exclaimed, “There’s a wrong Mass??!?”
“No, no,” he reassured me. “It’s just that people who are coming into the Church go to the 10:15 Mass, and then there’s a meeting afterwards. So, go away and then come back…oh, about 11:30 or so at the Davidson, the building on the far end of the property by John R.”
So, I passed my time at the conveniently located Starbucks, where I seriously considered just forgetting about it all and going home.
What kept me from going home?
I knew that, somehow, if I ever decided to come to this church again, THAT MAN WOULD KNOW. And he would smack me saying, “I told you to come back!”
So, I came back and found my way into the Davidson Center. After a bit, a woman came up to me and gave me a Bible, a Catechism, a 5-inch binder and another book, plus a whole stack of papers.
I was still a little overwhelmed by it all and when I got home, I placed it all on the couch, then started looking at the back covers. “This is like $70 worth of stuff! I’d better go back next week!”
Actually, I haven’t missed a Sunday since that first one. Less than 3 months after that, there I was at Vigil.
Shortly after coming into the Church at Easter Vigil, Patty, our Director of Religious Education, came up to me and told me a little more about that day. She said, “He (Fr. John) caught me between Masses and told me, ‘There’s going to be a [girl] coming to [RCIA] today. She’s going to be joining us at Easter. She’ll be ready.” (Or something to that effect, you’ll have to ask Patty for the verbatim.)
I could go on and on about all the wonderful people I met: Patty, Steve, my sponsor/godmother whom I came to love deeply… But to be short, I’ll just say that this changed everything. I had a new family. And I was home.
Shortly thereafter, Fr. John was transferred to a new parish. This parish was right on my way to work. And in September of 2007, Fr. John started up 6:30 am Masses. This was awesome, because it meant that I could go to Mass EVERY DAY on my way in to work at U of M! 🙂
Even though I knew Fr. John, I get anxious in new churches (which is odd because I am typically fearless in any other place). So, throughout that first Mass, I was white-knuckled, shaking in my chair in the Day Chapel.
Since OLGC is so conveniently located to work, it’s much easier to get there for Holy Days, than to try and beat the traffic back to Troy. Plus, the 5 days a week of daily Mass, the occasional Saturday morning Mass, Wednesday night Catholicism for Cradle Catholics and Gospel of Life speakers…. I was finding myself at OLGC quite a bit.
OLGC during the week, and St. A’s on Sunday (plus RCIA and Bible study and 5th grade catechism and…) but I wasn’t contributing to OLGC and this kind of bothered me.
When Archbishop Vigneron was installed and had a Mass at OLGC, I asked him if I could belong to more than one parish — and he gave me permission.
So this Easter, as one of my student loans was paid off and I had a little extra money, I decided that I should officially join OLGC, since it was becoming a second home and people were beginning to recognize me there at the various Church events.
On April 7, 2010, exactly three years after I was officially entered into the Catholic Church, I faxed over my application to be a parishioner.
And waited for the rejection letter…..
But, here I am! With the coveted Church Offering Envelopes!
My little family is growing! 🙂
Now for the cute little ironies.
Last year January, I felt that God was calling me to work in the field of Bioethics, and so I was admitted to Sacred Heart Major Seminary, where I am working on my Master’s in Theology, hoping to go on to a PhD in Bioethics.
I was cleaning a couple of weeks ago and what did I find? The bulletin from that first day at St. Anastasia.
What did Fr. John write about in his article?
And what is printed on the front of my new starter envelopes? Luke 6:36 “The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.”
The first time I think I heard this Gospel was during daily Mass at OLGC in that first year. I was grinning as soon as I heard it and I’m pretty sure I giggled all throughout the communion line.
Because I pictured this 2 story tall pyrex measuring cup and imagined myself telling Jesus, “THIS! THIS is the measure I use!”
Why Fr. John puts up with my laughing through his liturgy, I may never know. But he hasn’t kicked me out yet! 🙂