I interviewed a few folks about the experience. Our paper on March 1 couldn't hold all their great stories. Instead of leaving them on the editing room floor, I want to share them with our readers with this blog post:
Cathy Zuniga, who attends St. Joseph Church, Marietta, is a 53-year-old housewife. Seeing faith put into action by women at a Marietta ministry served as a catalyst for exploration of the Catholic Church. She made meals at Marietta’s MUST Ministries for homeless people. It turned out that many of the women were Catholic. They didn’t talk about their faith, but lived it, she said. “They are the most amazing, generous, kind (women) and they truly strive to live their faith. They don’t just live the faith on Sunday.” In 2010, Zuniga’s teenaged son died in a car crash. At the time, she attended a church that she described as a “feel good church”. “There’s nothing wrong with it. For me, it was not enough,” she said. In January 2011, she attended classes where the priest encouraged people to ask any question, no matter the topic. “The first meeting I was there, it was a done deal” to join, she said. Her husband, Mario, grew up in the church but had not been a church-goer for decades. He joined her in attending the church and was encouraged to see how it was different and more human than he remembered. “He is encouraging me. And I’m encouraging him. I will be a Catholic success story.” Now, she awaits the full membership with the Catholic Church. “I feel so good. I wish more people were not afraid of the Catholic Church. I’m not saying things are perfect. The church is a phenomenal place that does so much for a lot of people. I’m truly excited for the whole experience, whatever is going to come with it.” She said.
Alice’N Harmon, who is 51 and works as executive administrator, said her faith journey has been “rocky, long overdue.” Harmon said her decision to join the church has become a central part of personal transformation she has been undertaking. “I knew that it would be important but I did not realize how much the experiences of the class of attending Mass would take center stage and share the rest of the journey,” she said. She said a best friend is Catholic and in recent years he opened up about his faith. In 2011, she attended Mass with her friend’s mother and on the car ride to church ended up apologizing for knowing little about Catholicism. “And then - WOW!” she said. The stereotypes she held – a stern priest talking down to the congregation, everything was extremely serious, no singing except by a choir, a pretty scary place – disappeared. “Every church has been warm and welcoming. From that moment I wanted to be a part of that type of community and church to live and be a better self in order to live and have a better life in the service of God,” she wrote in an email. Looking ahead to her Lenten journey and Easter, Harmon said she is wrestling with ideas of how she’ll fit into the community. “Am I the type of person that the rest of the church want to be a part of there community? Is this truly God’s plan for me? I look forward to standing with my classmates to receive communion together but there is so much yet to learn and understand before that day comes. I want to be someone that they want to stand next to and I know I have a lot of work to do to get there.” “Overall, I genuinely look forward to being a member of this community and of learning and growing with and within the community and to finding my place in God’s service.”