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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: April 15, 2021
Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Little Rock welcomed 382 new Catholics into the Church from May 2020 through the Easter Vigil Masses on Saturday, April 3, 2021. Normally, all would have entered during the Easter Vigil, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the process was disrupted when public Masses were suspended in 2020.
These neophytes participated in their parish's Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process and fell into two groups: the elect and candidates. The elect had not been baptized or formed in the Christian faith and life. During their initiation they were baptized, confirmed and receive their first Communion. Candidates were already baptized members of other Christian churches who wished to become Catholic. During their initiation, they made a profession of faith, were confirmed and received their first Communion.
Rites of Election were held in February 2021, but only catechumens participated because of restrictions and ongoing safety concerns during the pandemic. Arkansas Catholic focused on the elect and candidates in its "Love Wins when Faith Finds its Home" special section. Included were testimonials that explained why eight of those wanted to become Catholic. Read their reasons below.
“In the fall (of) 2018, our homeschool studies introduced us to the early Church. Despite growing up in (a Christian) church, I never studied church history. It was this that led us to start studying the Catholic faith … I always thought of Catholics as being just another denomination, and then I realized that there were no other denominations for 1,500 years. … It wasn't just another denomination, it was the root of the Christian faith. … After a lot of prayer and research, we started RCIA two years later in the fall of 2020. We were excited to have our boys baptized and (be) received into the Church as a family on March 14.” — Heather Smith, candidate, joined with her husband Stephen and children JoHanna, Connor and Bennett, St. Joseph Church, Conway
“Joining the Church has been a desire of mine for more than half my life. I was reared in the Assembly of God denomination from birth and baptized at age 7. In my early adolescence I began to study the traditions of the Church and felt called to Catholicism at age 14. I knew that I wanted to make the journey home and one day join the Catholic Church. It has taken me until age 30 to make this decision a reality. This Easter I will make my profession of faith and receive confirmation.” — Chase Hoover, candidate, St. Boniface Church, Fort Smith
“Well, out of all my friends I have that are Catholic, I have great admiration for just about every single one of them because they all, out of everybody I know, live their faith like just all the time … My best friend in high school was Catholic; he got me to go to Search, which was another jumping off point. I went to #146, the summer of 2019. I was part of the outside team that Christmas (for Search #147). In general, just kind of being in the atmosphere was really nice because you know, being lax (in faith) you don’t really do a lot of that. And adoration was nice; it was a new one that I really enjoyed.” — Jacob Theriot, candidate, St. Joseph Church, Conway and a sophomore, University of Central Arkansas in Conway
“I decided to become Catholic because I met my fiancé in high school and he's Catholic. He is Hispanic, he’s from Mexico, his family was born Catholic ... I was actually raised non-denominational, so I was taught a lot differently than the Catholic Church. But my beliefs are still the same. So basically, I grew up learning about God and reading the Word and I just decided to go with it … (While in high school) he invited me to church, and the first Mass that I went to was actually in Spanish. I did not know what was going on. I did not speak a lick of Spanish … it touched me. I wouldn't change it because even though I didn't know, I didn't understand what was going on, I felt it.” — Dannah McDonald, elect, St. Edward Church, Texarkana
“It was a process that took years. I spent quite a bit of time searching and in prayer, starting when I was younger. I’m looking forward to seeing where God is moving me. One thing that’s been heavy on my heart is having a home, spiritually, and another thing is having a family. Coming from our state’s child welfare system, those things have been difficult or non-existent for me. I’m really excited about what God has already done to bring me and my wife together. I’m eager to see the people and other young couples we’re going to meet and the ways God’s going to put us to use. I’m super excited about that.” — Ed Phillips, candidate, Christ the King Church, Little Rock
“I am converting mainly because of my kids. They are being raised in the Catholic Church, and I wanted to show them that God is important. My two youngest boys were the happiest. They wanted me to be like them. I’ve learned more about the Ten Commandments and about differences in the type of sins. I’ve gone to Mass with them some of the time, and I feel that we will become closer to each other and closer to God.” — Jennifer Nobles, elect, St. Mary Church, Hot Springs
“I am becoming Catholic because I want to extend and deepen my relationship with the Lord. I know that joining the Church is the best way to accomplish this. I remember going to Mass the first time with my husband and being brought to tears by the homily. It felt like I belonged there, like I had been called by something I couldn't quite grasp at the time. I now know what that was: an encounter with the Lord. He led me to the Catholic Church, the true way to salvation. ... Joining the Church this Easter is one of the greatest honors of my life.” — Rebecca Zodrow, elect, St. Vincent de Paul, Rogers
“My husband’s Catholic grandfather has been instrumental in my journey as well as Catholic books by authors I have loved, such as G.K. Chesterton and Sigrid Undset, scholarly work by men such as Scott Hahn, Cardinal Newman and Bishop Barron, stories from ‘The Journey Home’ and a godly, prayerful Catholic friend. ... Finally, the real presence of Christ at his family table has brought me to this point. I do not have all of my questions answered, but I am willing to learn.” — Catherine Amy Lane, candidate, St. Vincent de Paul, Rogers