Anna's Journey to Easter
Deborah Holmes, pastoral coordinator of Glenmary's Bruce, Miss., mission, believes Anna's story is just another example of one-to-one evangelization helping change the course of a person's life.
Anna, 29, will enter the Catholic Church this year at the mission, receiving first Communion and confirmation during the Easter liturgy. As a young girl, she was baptized in another denomination, and until last year, she continued to attend Sunday services at the other church.
But Anna's gradual journey to Catholicism started about three years ago when she began talking with Deborah, a longtime friend, about the direction her life was taking.
"I was trying to find some answers," says Anna, "and I was comfortable discussing things with Deb because she's a dear friend." The conversations have continued ever since then.
"She knew my door was always open for her," Deborah says.
Anna's first priority was her son, then 5 years old, whom she wanted to enroll in a religious education program. Anna registered him at the Bruce mission "because I trust Deb. When he's there for Wednesday classes, I know he's safe and I don't have to worry about him."
When her son began classes, Anna began volunteering to help the mission in whatever ways she could. Three years later, she's still helping. Every Wednesday, she drives the mission's van to transport children to and from class and serves as an assistant for the teachers. She and her mother also cook and serve a meal for the group.
"Anna does a world of other things for us at the mission, too," says Deborah. "For example, she and my daughter produce the church bulletin every week. And she has volunteered to do projects like trimming the bushes in front of the church and painting the fence. I think she feels welcomed and appreciated."
To support her daughter, grandson, and Deborah, Anna's mother has also become involved at the mission, most recently sewing new altar cloths.
When Anna's son turned 6, she decided to have him baptized Catholic. Now 7, he continues to attend religious education classes and is looking forward to becoming an altar boy after he receives first Communion.
About a year ago, Anna told Deborah that she wanted to become Catholic. She began attending Mass with her son, and in the fall, she started the RCIA process.
"It's a very welcoming community, and I really enjoy being part of it," says Anna, in looking back on what motivated her to join the Church and the mission. "Everybody is family. People accept you for who you are, and I definitely feel at home.
"Also, in the Catholic religion it's OK if you make mistakes sometimes. As long as you ask God for forgiveness and try to do better, everything will be all right. I haven't always made good life choices. But bringing my son here and having him baptized, and now joining the Church and the mission myself, are choices I'm very proud of."