Growing up, I did not have any type of religious teachings by my parents. We went to church because we got in trouble once for about a month. I found myself, as a teenager trying to fill my life with drugs and partying instead of God. I became pregnant at 18 years old and chose, with the help of my mother to have an abortion, feeling this was my only choice at that time and not knowing what effects this would have on the rest of my life. I later got pregnant with yet another child and once again chose to abort this child as well.
I became a drug addict and then got pregnant again and chose to get off the drugs and have the child. The father of my child and I broke up and my child and I started living with my parents.
I got married to another man, quit working and had another child. Once my youngest child started school, I started working outside of the home. I was going through some marital problems and my boss as she puts it, saw that I was looking for something to fill an emptiness that I felt. She states that she wanted to say “I know what you can fill that with-God”. Instead of saying this, she invited me to church. I finally accepted her invitation, just to satisfy her, thinking that if I go, she would not bother me any longer.
I really did not know much about God or Religion and the thought of it scared me.
I went with my friend on July 8, 2007 and I was so nervous, my hands were sweating as I had never even been in a Catholic church. The priest talked about having an oyster and this oyster was had this piece of sand that irritated it and this ugly oyster grew this beautiful pearl. This spoke to me loud and clear, I could not get enough. I tried a few other churches and religions in the following weeks and just did not get that feeling from them. My boss (and friend) supported me and was there answer my questions. She gave me books to read. On Sunday, we were sitting in the Social Hall after mass and I saw that an RCIA inquiry class was going to start soon and I really felt God calling me to do this. I asked my friend, “If I was to do this, would you sponsor me”, not really committing to it if she said no. She said she would and I was so excited. I was now a catechumen.
I started the RCIA class and one of the first questions that I was asked was what was my favorite Bible story, I was stumped. The only story that I could remember is Noah’s Ark and Adam and Eve. My friend and sponsor came to my rescue. Like I said before I did not have any religious teaching from my parents and I really felt stupid when it came to church, God or religion. I did not give up, I kept going and learned something every week. One of the sessions of RCIA was a mock confession where a priest from the church comes in and does a fake confession with a team member. The confession started and the male team member confessed that he had not stopped his old college girlfriend from having an abortion when he was in college. The priest told him to first name the child and when he went to get communion, he was to take this child with him. I was floored. I could feel God talking to me. I went home, prayed and named those children that I had aborted years before. I also wrote them a letter to tell them how sorry I was and how much I did miss them. I chose to keep the letter and bring it to the alter at the Easter Vigil. This was the one thing that I have struggled with the most since starting this journey and becoming Catholic.
It was now the Easter Vigil and I had the letter in my pocket of my outfit for after I got baptized. As I got into the baptismal font, the priest said to me, “It has been a long journey”. I thought, “you are right God, it has been a long journey, it is good to be home”. I could feel the sins being washed away as the water was being poured over my head.
I went to change and put on my clothes and the white gown that I was to put on after I got baptized, made sure that the letter was in my pocket. Then went up to the alter to get confirmed. This was the first time in my life that I could feel proud of who I was. I had chose Joan of Arc as my saint and felt like the white gown was my armor, I could push my chest out a little and stand tall for the first time.
I got confirmed and then I went to take my first communion and I begged God to take care of my children and as I took the body of Christ, I said both of their names, “Joshua Ryan and Stephanie Elizabeth” to myself and knew that they are safe and with God.