November 23, 2012

Readers open their hearts to share what they love about being Catholic

Carol Freeland, right, and Bobbie Lawless pray at the Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) Church in Indianapolis on Nov. 15. The adoration chapel has served Indianapolis East Deanery parishes for 20 years. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Carol Freeland, right, and Bobbie Lawless pray at the Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) Church in Indianapolis on Nov. 15. The adoration chapel has served Indianapolis East Deanery parishes for 20 years. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

What do you love about being Catholic?

It’s a question that The Criterion is asking Catholics from across the archdiocese—a question that stems from Pope Benedict XVI’s call for a special Year of Faith that began on Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publishing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In considering that question, people from across central and southern Indiana have offered thoughtful and touching responses that pour from their hearts.

Some of their answers are humbling to hear.

Other responses are inspiring and filled with joy.

All speak of a faith that they cherish as a gift.

As you read their answers, consider your own response to the question:

What do you love about being Catholic?

The embodiment of hope and mercy

“We are a people of hope and mercy,” says Millie Harmon, a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus. “After everything that is said and done, those are the two qualities that keep me in the Church. Hope and mercy are reflected so well in the liturgies that we pray.”

Inspiration in tough times

“I like that there are so many spiritual symbols that help me get through the rough times,” says Sherlynn Pillow, a member of St. Lawrence Parish and principal of Holy Angels School, both in Indianapolis. “They provide meaning and guidance for me in how I see and live the faith—the crucifix, angels, the bread and the wine. They help me live my faith.

“I make the sign of the cross wherever I am when I eat dinner. I don’t care where I am. It could be at a banquet. I sometimes get looks from people like, ‘Really?’ My reaction is, ‘Yes, really!’ It means I put God first before anything else.”

The joy of being with God

“I became a Christian when I was 18, and I didn’t become a Catholic until five or six years ago,” says Mike Waters, now 30, a member of Holy Family Parish in Richmond. “Before becoming Catholic, I felt all my life I was trying to find God in different ways. By becoming Catholic, I felt I came back to God completely. I found God in the sacraments—confirmation, in confessing my sins to Jesus in the sacrament of reconciliation and in receiving Christ directly in the Eucharist.”

A parent’s gift to a child

“I love that you can teach your children about the Catholic faith,” says Paola Alejo Gomez, a member of St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis. “As they grow, you can see how you’re forming them. It’s important to me because it’s been my tradition and my religion since I was a baby. And I know that if you’re with God, everything else seems to work better. Whatever you go through, he’s there to help.”

The richness of the faith

“It’s the richness of the faith,” says Sue Campbell, a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington. “There are so many devotions and ways to express our faith within the Catholic Church. It has become very meaningful for me to attend daily Mass. It’s to the point where I don’t feel right without it.”

A sense of community

“For the past 10 years, I’ve been suffering from cancer,” notes Anne Beckman, a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. “Whenever I’m in the hospital—no matter how many times I’ve been there before—I receive the same get-well cards, placement upon oblates’ lists and hospital visits from clergy. A never-ending supply of love to this extreme need deepens my faith to endless fathoms.

“Being in a Catholic hospital gave my Church’s comfort and aid to me during the worst times. When I was in the intensive care unit, one day my heart rate went up dangerously. The crash carts came. I turned my head to the crucifix on the wall. I concentrated upon it extremely hard. That way, I calmly went through a traumatic event.”

A foundation of prayer and regiment

“I’m a convert so being Catholic is darn important to me,” says Jeff Purichia, a member of St. Mary Parish in New Albany. “My college roommate was a Catholic, and he invited me to Mass. What I appreciated most about the Catholic faith came from watching his family. There was a prayer and a regiment for every part of their life. For me, that filled a void.

“I appreciated watching him as a Catholic—his attentiveness to making Mass every Sunday. As I started hanging around these people and learning what made our Church, it hit me—this is the true, original Church. It was founded by Christ.”

The blessing of the Eucharist

“I love being Catholic because of the Eucharist,” says Gabrielle Neal, director of the Refugee Resettlement Program for the archdiocese. “Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is a precious opportunity to nourish my faith. In a nutrition-label-conscious society, we constantly are concerned about calories, fats or carbs. With God in my food pyramid, I have the grace to do his will or strive to do.

“The beautiful part about this opportunity is its universality. It is and has been there since Christ. The Eucharist has fortified souls for centuries—during persecutions, wars, droughts and other times of difficulty. The Eucharist is constant even when humans may disappoint you. It has even reached those not receiving the Eucharist for their lives are impacted by the hands and hearts of those who have received the Eucharist.

“Time after time, people tell me that Catholic Charities/Caritas helped them overseas or helped their family years ago. When I hear this, I know that we are able to serve because we are Catholic—because we are strengthened by Christ.”

The connection of souls

“It’s how we are all connected, both the living and the dead. And how God wants us to be one with him,” says Anna Wray, a member of Mary, Queen of Peace Parish in Danville. “I love being part of that.”

(The Criterion would like you to share your thoughts and stories concerning “What I love about being Catholic.” We are also seeking short stories and comments about the impact that Catholic schools are having or have had on the faith journeys of educators, students and graduates—“What I love about Catholic schools.” Please submit your comments and short stories to assistant editor John Shaughnessy by e-mail at or by mail in care of The Criterion, 1400 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46202. Please include your parish and a daytime phone number where you can be reached.)

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