by Marc and Julie Anderson
TOPEKA — Everything can be found online.
Cory and Whitney Deedrick literally founded 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 West Region of the Archdiocese on March 6 at the Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Topeka. (A second celebration was held for the Eastern Region of the Archdiocese that evening.)
Usually celebrated at the start of Lent, the rite is one in which those who wish to be received into the Catholic faith – both those who have been baptized in other Christian traditions (candidates) and those who have never been baptized ( catechumens) – stand before their sponsors, the archdiocesan community of faith and the archbishop to express their desire to enter into 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 that began last summer when they realized it was time to consider the educational future of their two sons: Cole, 5, and Camden, 4 years.
“We had a serious discussion before school started about enrolling our boys in a private school, and we knew we wanted it to be a religious school. So we did some research and ended up choosing the Purest Heart of Mary,” Cory said.
They also began to reflect on their own life of faith.
“We wanted, for a while, to make church and prayer a bigger part of our lives,” he said. “We’ve always been kind of drawn to that, I guess. We just never took the leap. We always wanted to do [faith] was more part of our children’s lives than ours, but we didn’t have much experience in that area.
“Church wasn’t really a big deal for both of us growing up,” Cory added. Her family attended occasionally while Whitney’s family never attended church.
“We thought, ‘Well, [the boys] will go to mass on Friday, and they will learn their prayers. They will get to know God. We have to get involved because they’re going to come home and ask questions, and we don’t have answers to those questions,” Cory said.
When the couple realized they wanted to join the Catholic Church, they also realized they didn’t know what to do next.
“I literally searched online for how to join the Catholic Church,” Whitney said. It was there that she learned that she and Cory would need to enroll in classes for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).
“We searched all of the Catholic churches in Topeka to see when their RCIA started and what days classes were held,” Whitney said. They ended up signing up for classes at Mother Teresa’s Parish of Calcutta in North Topeka because it worked better schedule-wise.
Today the Deedricks said they made the right decision and look forward to living in faith together as a family. The same goes 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 . In his mid-40s, he started dating his wife Shelly and returned to his childhood. Faith.
His son Reydeck, now 20, noticed.
Last summer, Reydeck asked Vince what it would take to become a Catholic. It was something he had been thinking about since shortly after graduating from high school when he read about miracles online.
Last fall, Vince contacted Jim Garcia, one of the RCIA program instructors at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, to enroll Reydeck in the classes. Vince also decided to sign up for classes. This way the two could learn together.
At the time, Vince thought he might serve as Reydeck’s godfather, but learned otherwise. And there was another small matter. Vince had never been confirmed, something he had thought about decades ago, but never had time to do.
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, both were struck by the power of Christ’s forgiveness.
“St. Peter is the one who denied Jesus three times. This is the 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 also brings this point home.
“That’s what he [Christ] done for us,” he said. “He forgives us for everything we have done. We just have to ask.