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Why did I become Catholic?

The following people participated in their parish's Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, which is the process for adults to enter the Catholic Church. They were among the 560 people who received the sacraments of initiationbaptism, confirmation and Eucharist at Easter Vigil Masses across the Diocese of Little Rock on Holy Saturday, April 7, 2012. To see the list of all the people who entered the Church in Arkansas, read the April 7 issue of Arkansas Catholic

Worshiping Together

"I started last fall to attend RCIA classes here at St. Vincent's. Luis and I are engaged to be married. When we started to discuss marriage, I wanted to learn more about the Catholic faith. We want to bring up the children in the faith too. When I met Luis, I was not involved in a church. I had never been baptized so coming into the Church is very important to me. I am looking forward to my baptism, and I want to continue to learn more about my faith in the future. Luis has been a big help as well as his family who are all Catholic too. His brother, Juan, is studying to be a priest and will be ordained in May. One thing I am excited about is that Luis and I will be able to take the sacraments together when we go to Mass in the future." — Bronzetta Parsons (with her fiancé Luis Manjarrez), elect, St. Vincent de Paul Church, Rogers

Coming Home

"My wife and I have been married for 37 years and she is a cradle Catholic. I've always supported the Catholic Church through her. As I traveled through the world as a military child and member, I saw all these other different religions that seemed to do OK for those people. Not too long ago I saw a nun telling a story. She was drawing a line on a blackboard. She mentioned that Catholic was the one religion that could be traced all the way down to the roots of Jesus. For me that was a wake-up light. What finally drew me back to Catholicism was that this was the one religion that dates back to the beginning of Christianity. I guess I had to travel the world and study until I figured out this was where I want to be." — Gregory Deen, candidate, St. Jude Church, Jacksonville

Holy Father's Influence

"I grew up in a Protestant home. My parents were missionaries in Japan. We were very devout. I was taught Catholics have it totally wrong and were not Christians with the exception of Martin Luther and the reformers, so I was very skeptical. While studying church history at Wheaton College Graduate School, we read an encyclical by Pope John Paul II. I was struck by the beauty and truth of his words. It opened my heart to delve deeper into what Catholicism is. I met my husband at Wheaton and he was asking the same questions … It's been an ongoing journey of discovering the beauty of the Church and having our questions answered. It is an exciting journey and an overwhelming sense of the grace of God to bring us to this point." — Maria Copas, candidate, Cathedral of St. Andrew, Little Rock

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United in Faith

"When my husband and I were engaged I read a book about Catholicism. It made me want to learn more. The RCIA process is a great platform for that. We want to raise our future children in the Catholic faith with both of us being their teachers. Having a stable, united household is a top priority." — Lauren Pianalto (with her husband Zac), elect, St. Edward Church, Texarkana

Deeper Connection

"I'm becoming Catholic because after attending the church for a couple of years. I've found a sense of acceptance from the community and involvement. Also I just felt like it was a more personal experience there because it's more ritualistic. I feel like I'm a deeper part of it because of that. Because that's what they did a long time ago, I feel I have a deeper connection with God and the Church." — Paul Jones, elect, St. Joseph Church, Conway

Searching Pays Off

"There are probably as many reasons people choose to become Catholic as there are RCIA candidates; however, I think my situation is one which many can relate. It begins simply with my husband being Catholic. It has always been important to me that we attend church as a family, and I insisted we try lots of different churches. We found St. Boniface and both of us agreed for the first time in almost 10 years that we liked the same church. We were both thrilled, so I began the RCIA process and am very excited for Easter Sunday." — Darcy Wollscheid, candidate, St. Boniface Church, Fort Smith

Whole and Complete

"I was mainly drawn to the Catholic Church because it offered a sort of wholeness and completeness, an intellectual and emotional solid ground for my faith and my relationship with God which I had never had before. I always wanted to really love God and serve him, but I could never figure out how until I came to the Catholic Church. And, one and a half years later, I'm finally ready to come home." — Stephen Granderson, candidate, St. Mark Church, Monticello

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Years in the Making

"The reason I am becoming Catholic is relatively simple. I grew up with my mom's side of the family being Baptist, and my dad's side of the family being Catholic. I was brought up around both religions and attended both types of services many times as a kid. After I joined the Air Force in 1999, I decided that I wanted to go through the full confirmation process, but because of deployments, moving to new bases, returning back to college, I never really had the stability in one place to go through the full RCIA experience. Thankfully, I have had relative stability and two very supportive friends, Kenny and Dave, who have acted as my sponsors while I go through the confirmation process. Overall, I would say that I have always felt the calling to join the Catholic community; however, this year happened to be the time that God picked for me to be able to enjoy the full RCIA process to be confirmed in the Church." — Leonard "Lenny" Spigiel II, candidate, Cathedral of St. Andrew, Little Rock

Place of Welcome

"I decided to become a Catholic because I love and care about (my fiancé). If everything works out, we will be married here. I wanted to be married in the Catholic Church. When I came here for the first time, I felt welcome here. For the first time in my whole life, these people welcomed me into the Church. Her mom is Catholic and she had a big influence on me becoming a Catholic too. I went to her mom's church and I felt welcomed there also."
— John Jones, candidate, St. Jude the Apostle Church, Jacksonville

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Bystander No More

"I used to think that as long as I attended church with my family, it didn't really matter if I was Catholic or not. All it took was a little encouragement from Father (Gregory) Hart and the excitement of my husband and children to convince me that it did matter. I didn't want to be a bystander anymore. I wanted to participate fully and feel like a true member of the church family that I had grown to know so well." — Christy Pianalto, elect, St. Joseph Church, Tontitown

Unity and Strength

"We were part of a nondenominational church and sometimes the Lord just tells you your time there is done. That's how we felt, we were not sure of where we were going. We tried a couple of churches in the area and it just didn't feel right. We needed to get on our knees and pray about it and let the Lord lead us to where we needed to go … We just fell in love with the church and the people and the unity, the strength of the community there. That's what our hearts were searching for." — Marisa Mize, husband Mark Mize and 15-year-old daughter Celina Mize, candidates, St. Joseph Church, Conway


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