Less than a month from now, we will have fully welcomed seven women and men fully into the Catholic Church and into the life of our St. Mary’s Parish family. They come from all over the world, including Eurasia and the southern tip of Africa. They each discovered the Catholic Church in a different way. They have been meeting weekly since the fall to prepare mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for their full inclusion into our faith. Some of them are coming from another religion or Christian denomination. Others were never introduced to faith, or for one reason or another veered away from religion until God drew them in. Their stories are in some ways ordinary, and in other ways, astounding.
I’d like to take the next couple of weeks to introduce you to them one by one. By the time Easter arrives, you can understand the richness of the journeys this group has been on, and give glory to God for the tremendous gift of faith
Amanda Engels has a face you may have seen at the 11:15 a.m. Mass. She and her fiancé, Philip, have attended Mass each week since moving from Saratoga to Glens Falls around the same time I did this past year. Her parents, Thomas and Amy, raised her in the Protestant faith, which seemed to suit her well enough. But, it was when she was introduced to the strong faith of Philip’s Vermont Catholic family that she awakened to her desire to be able to unite with her future husband, and raise their children in a shared faith. Amanda works in social media marketing and brings creativity and excellence to everything she does, including her study of and formation in the Catholic Faith. Philip is her sponsor for thesacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation, which she will celebrate at St. Mary’s on April 16, during the great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.
Andrew Paszko is probably best known at St. Mary’s as Charlotte’s dad. That’s because Andrew’s (along with his wife, Emily) daughter turns heads everywhere she goes with her expressive and beautiful face, and her “old soul” nature. Andrew was born in San Diego and spent his first decade in Toms River, New Jersey, before moving back to his mom’s hometown when he was nine. He was a Boy Scout in Troop 2, which means he has spent hours at St. Mary’s, doing projects in SMSA’s classrooms, enjoying the school playground and “working parking drives in the church parking lot out of a huge tractor trailer.”
Andrew was baptized Lutheran, but it was his grandmother’s Catholic faith that always captivated him the most. Emily is Catholic, and the birth of Charlotte caused them to have serious conversations about faith. His grandmother encouraged him to pray about becoming Catholic and taught him the rosary and other forms of prayer. Since making the decision, Andrew and Emily’s faith has taken off. “My love for Jesus Christ continues to grow stronger as I learn more and more about him,” he says. “I find that I am closest to God in the Catholic Church.” Andrew, a physician assistant and EMT will be confirmed and receive first Eucharist on April 16 as well.May God bless Andrew, Amanda and all those who are finding their place among God’s holy people this Easter.