Archdiocese Local

Catholic Church welcomes searching souls — online

Whitney and Cory Deedrick took the first steps toward becoming Catholic at the Rite of Election March 6 at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Topeka. The Deedricks decided to join the faith after considering the educational futures of their children. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

by Marc and Julie Anderson

TOPEKA — One can find anything online.

Cory and Whitney Deedrick literally found the Catholic Church there.

Now, on April 16, they will be baptized at Mother Teresa of Calcutta Church in Topeka.

The Deedricks, along with Vince and Reydeck Garcia, are members of this year’s class of catechumens and candidates who participated in the Rite of Election for the western region of the archdiocese on March 6 at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Topeka. (A second celebration was held for the eastern region of the archdiocese that evening.)

Catholics gathered at the Rite of Election held March 6 at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Topeka. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

Usually celebrated in early Lent, the rite is one in which those wishing to be received into the Catholic faith — both those who have been baptized into other Christian traditions (candidates) and those who have never been baptized (catechumens) — stand before their sponsors, the archdiocesan faith community and the archbishop to express their desire to enter the full sacramental life of the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann presided over the celebrations.

Archbishop Naumann presided over the Rite of Election at Most Pure Heart of Mary in Topeka. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

For the Deedricks, the rite was another step on a journey begun last summer when they realized it was time to consider the educational future of their two sons: Cole, 5, and Camden, 4.

“We had a serious talk before school started about enrolling our boys into a private school, and we knew we wanted it to be a religious school. So, we did some looking around, and we ended up deciding on Most Pure Heart of Mary,” said Cory.

They also started considering their own faith life.

“We’ve wanted to, for a while, make church and prayer more a part of our lives,” he said. “We’ve always been drawn to it a little bit, I guess. We just never made the leap. We always wanted to make [faith] more a part of our kids’ lives more than it was in ours, but we didn’t have a lot of experience in it.”

“Church wasn’t really a big deal for either of us growing up,” Cory added. His family went occasionally while Whitney’s family never went to church.

“We thought, ‘Well, [the boys] will be going to Mass on Fridays, and they’re going to be learning their prayers. They’re going to learn about God. We need to get involved because they’re going to come home and ask questions, and we don’t have answers to those questions,’” said Cory.

Cory Deedrick signs his name in the Book of the Elect at Most Pure Heart of Mary. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

Just as the couple was realizing they wanted to join the Catholic Church, they also realized that they didn’t know what to do next.

“I literally searched online how to join the Catholic Church,” Whitney said. It was there she learned that she and Cory would need to enroll in classes for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adult (RCIA).

“We looked up every Catholic church in Topeka to see when their RCIA started and what days the classes were held,” Whitney said. They wound up enrolled in classes at Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in north Topeka, since it worked best from a scheduling perspective.

Nowadays, the Deedricks said they’ve made the right decision and are looking forward to living in faith together as a family. The same is true for the Garcias.

Father and son, Vince and Reydeck Garcia, took part in the Topeka Rite of Election. Though Vince was baptized Catholic, he was never confirmed and had fallen away from the church for a time. Reydeck, who was never baptized, asked his father about joining the Catholic Church and the two enrolled in the RCIA program together. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

Although Vince, 51, was baptized and made his first Communion at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Topeka decades ago, somewhere along the line he stopped going to Mass. Around his mid-40s, he started dating his wife Shelly and returned to his childhood faith.

His son Reydeck, now 20, took notice.

Last summer, Reydeck asked Vince what it would take to become Catholic. It was something he’d been thinking about since shortly after graduating from high school when he read some articles about miracles online.

Last fall, Vince approached Jim Garcia, one of the instructors for Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish’s RCIA program, about enrolling Reydeck in the classes. Vince decided to enroll in the classes, too. That way, the two could learn together.

At the time, Vince thought he could serve as Reydeck’s sponsor, but learned otherwise. And there was another small matter. Vince had never been confirmed, something he’d thought about decades ago but just never got around to.

On Holy Saturday, not only will Reydeck be baptized and receive the Eucharist for the first time, but he and Vince will be confirmed together.

Vince Garcia takes part in the Topeka Rite of Election. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

In the meantime, the two have been struck by the power of Christ’s forgiveness.

“St. Peter was the one who denied Jesus three times. That’s the one thing that struck me the most. One of the apostles denied Jesus three times, but Jesus still forgave him,” Reydeck said.

Vince said the parable of the prodigal son really brings that point home, too.

“That’s what he [Christ] does for us,” he said. “He forgives us for everything we’ve done. We just have to ask.”

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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