When public celebrations of the Easter Vigil were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in April, hundreds of people expecting to receive the sacraments of initiation that night in the Archdiocese of Louisville saw those plans put on hold.
Weeks later, parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville are receiving new members.
On June 20, 15 individuals were received into the church during Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Church, 5431 Johnsontown Road.
Among them was Angela Roby, who said the postponement was “heartbreaking” and she’s grateful to finally be able to come fully into the church.
Roby said her return to the Catholic faith tradition was a few years in the making. As a baby she was baptized Catholic at St. Andrew Church in Harrodsburg, Ky., but when her parents divorced they stopped attending church.
“I fell away and blanketed myself as a Christian,” said Roby during a recent interview. “I’ve been wanting to get back in the church for a few years. I’m not sure what kept me from it. Maybe because my relationship with God wasn’t as strong as I wanted it to be,” Roby said
Her desire to return to the church grew stronger as she attended Bellarmine University and learned about Catholic social teaching. When her fiance, who is Catholic, proposed, she knew it was time.
“I finally got the courage to go through with it,” she said. “I’m really excited to join the Catholic community and in the future raise our family that way.”
She and her fiance Josh Staples plan to marry in October at St. Theresa Church in Rhodelia, Ky., where Staples’ parents and grandparents were married.
Another parish in the archdiocese welcomed new members on June 7. Four individuals received the sacraments of initiation that day at Immaculate Conception Church in La Grange, Ky.
Among them was Valeri Snively, who was baptized, received the sacrament of confirmation and first Eucharist.
“It was great to finally be received and celebrate with our friends who were entering the church as well,” said Snively in a recent interview.
As a child, Snively said she and her family attended different churches but never settled on a faith tradition. She was introduced to the Catholic church by her grandparents, she said. Snively’s husband also was raised Catholic. Eight years ago they were married in the Catholic church, she said. Her desire to one day become Catholic began then, she said.
Father Trumie C. Elliott said those who entered the church June 7 didn’t do so with the “fanfare of the Easter vigil” as is customary. But “bringing new members and new Christians into the church is about the best thing we ever do.”
“There are some things that don’t matter when they happen as long as they happen,” he said. “It was an Easter day for us, though Easter and Pentecost had come and gone. We’re a joyful and brand new church because of their new life in Christ.”
In the weeks that followed the Easter Vigil, Snively said Father Elliott and Kevin Stetter, who leads the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at Immaculate Conception, kept in touch with her. They called and sent messages to let her know they were praying for her and waiting for the day when she could be received into the church. That was one of the “best” experiences, she said.
Stetter said, “It was a joy and a pleasure to see the people I was walking with for almost a year finally be able to be received. If I hadn’t been wearing a mask you would have seen a smile on my face from ear to ear.”
Father Elliott, who is administrator pro-tempore of Immaculate Conception, started celebrating Mass outdoors on the church’s campus on May 31, Pentecost Sunday, and it’s been a success, he said.
The parish will continue to worship outdoors through June. Immaculate Conception is also celebrating an 8 a.m. Mass Sunday morning for senior citizens.