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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”