More than 700 prepare to join the church
by Marc and Julie Anderson
Special to The Leaven
TOPEKA — “I’ve often said that God has a sense of humor,” claims Frank Crosson of St. Matthew Parish here.
And he points to how he met his wife Karin as example.
As a student at Ottawa University, he said, “a Methodist met a Catholic at a Baptist school.” In May 1982, the Methodist married his Catholic sweetheart at St. Matthew in Topeka. And although he did not convert, Crosson agreed to raise any future children in the Catholic faith.
Prior to the births of his children, Crosson said, he attended Mass sporadically. After the couple had welcomed both a son and a daughter, Crosson decided to join his wife regularly.
“I felt it was the best thing to do,” he said.
Over the next two decades, both children grew — celebrating their first Communion, receiving the sacrament of confirmation, and finally heading off to Catholic colleges. During all that time, Crosson attended Mass with his family, but never considered joining the church himself.
“My wife never brought it up. I never mentioned it to her. I think we were both just comfortable in the situation as it was,” Crosson said.
Last summer, though, Crosson began to consider what he might have been missing all these years — like receiving the Eucharist with his family at the baccalaureate Mass of his son’s graduation from the University of Notre Dame.
With his daughter starting her senior year at Benedictine College in Atchison, Crosson thought it time to do some serious soul-searching.
“I began to think there was something missing in my life,” he said, adding he regretted not being able to receive Communion at important moments in the lives of his children.
When he finally decided he wanted to join the church, ironically, he had no idea how to begin the process.
About that same time, though, St. Matthew pastor Father Jerry Volz sent out a letter to every non-Catholic who was married to a Catholic in the parish and invited them “to learn more about the Catholic faith which their spouse practices through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and to consider joining him or her and the rest of our community for Sunday Mass.”
Father Volz was delighted when Crosson felt led to act upon the invitation.
Now, each week takes him closer to that full communion — with his family and its church.
March 13 marked one final important step in Crosson’s faith journey, when he joined other candidates in standing before the archbishop and the archdiocesan church family and indicated his desire to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. This ceremony, called the Rite of Election, took place at St. Matthew Parish, but the rite will also be celebrated on March 20 at Holy Angels Parish in Basehor and St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood.
All told, there are more than 500 candidates across the archdiocese who will become members of the Catholic Church.
Josh Compton, on the other hand, is one of the 200 catechumens that will enter the church at Easter, and he, too, attended the Rite of Election ceremony at St. Matthew. (Catechumens are those not yet baptized, while candidates are baptized Christians seeking to enter into full communion with the church.)
But if someone had told him five years ago he was going to become Catholic, he would laughed at the thought.
Growing up, faith was important to Compton’s family, but church attendance was sporadic. His family tried several churches and more than one denomination, finally settling on a non-denominational church in north Topeka.
“I think while I was in high school, I maybe went to church once a month, twice rarely, and I never had been to a Catholic church for anything other than funerals or weddings,” he said.
At college, however, Compton met his future wife, Annie, at the local movie theaters where they both worked. After several dates, Compton was invited to celebrate Christmas with Annie’s family — which included Midnight Mass on Christmas.
“I remember being struck with how beautiful the church was,” Compton said.
After their wedding in 2006, Compton said he was hit with an important realization — that, as head of his family, someday he would stand before God and be judged for his spiritual leadership to his wife and children. So, he talked with Annie about their church attendance.
Compton’s religious roots were not only Protestant, however; they also contained an anti-Catholic bias. He did not want to join the Catholic Church, and Annie had no interest in the Protestant churches he liked.
It took some years, but about six months ago, Compton finally decided to read some books a high school friend, Andrew Lynch, had lent him about the Catholic faith.
Halfway through the first one, he put the book down in amazement.
“It just kind of floored me. This is amazing,” he said. “This is the faith that Jesus founded.”
Since reading that first book, Compton, an avid reader, said he has devoured almost every form of Catholic reading material he can get his hands on, many of them supplied by Lynch, who will be his godfather when he is baptized at St. Bernard Parish in Wamego at the Easter Vigil on April 23.
Compton’s son Alaster will be baptized at the same Mass.
“There is a line that I have said a lot in the past several months: You’re convicted by truth,” said Compton
“That describes me,” he concluded. “I don’t consider myself anything but Catholic now.”