By Celine Klosterman
CENTERVILLE – From the time Tanya and Ryan Moore decided to return to the Catholic Church in 2009, she vowed they wouldn’t do so half-heartedly.
Three years after receiving sacraments of initiation at St. Mary Church, their family has dived into parish life. Mom Tanya is a catechist for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Dad Ryan is a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus. Daughter Corina has ministered as a singer, altar server and lector at Mass, and her brother Nolan has served as lector at a children’s liturgy.
For Tanya and Ryan, who were baptized but not raised in the Church, it’s been rewarding to belong to a faith community.
“We wanted to get in there and give our kids the experiences we never had,” Tanya said.
She had stopped going to Mass and religious education classes at age 7. Ryan, meanwhile, made his first Communion as a child, but stopped attending church in fifth grade.
After marrying and having two children, the couple talked about practicing Catholicism again. But not much came of that talk until they saw an ad in late 2008 in Centerville’s Daily Iowegian promoting an informational session on RCIA at St. Mary’s. A phone call later, she and Ryan had a meeting with JoAnn McLin, the parish’s faith formation and RCIA coordinator.
At Easter Vigil 2009, Ryan and Tanya were fully initiated into the Catholic Church; Corina received the sacraments of baptism and first Communion; and Nolan was baptized. Last year Corina, now 15, was confirmed and Nolan, now 9, received his first Communion.
Tanya, an office clerk who’s earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, has served for the past three years as a catechist on the RCIA team. “I’ve learned more every year. When you join the Church, so much information comes at you so fast; it’s a little overwhelming. Now that I know that feeling, I want to help make sure people going through RCIA are understanding me.”
Corina and Ryan also are ministering in faith formation — both served as catechists on the confirmation team this past year. “I wanted students to realize how important it is to be part of the Church after they get confirmed,” the teenager said. She feels a sense of pride and accomplishment from contributing to charity and service projects that St. Mary’s youths have carried out.
Ryan, a self-employed contractor and volunteer firefighter, also has been a eucharistic minister and RCIA sponsor. On July 1, he’ll become deputy of district 50 for the Knights of Columbus.
He has confronted his fear of speaking in front of people by volunteering to proclaim Scripture readings at Mass. “I thought, we got in front of people (at Easter Vigil) and everyone was accepting of us, so I’ll try this lector thing,” he said.
Belonging to St. Mary’s has helped formerly shy Nolan branch out, too. “When you join the church, you’re the center of attention,” Tanya said. “Everyone wants to talk to you, so he was kind of forced to come out of his shell …. Within the first year-and-a-half, he was a new boy.”
He even once surprised his parents by reading Scripture at a children’s liturgy, she recalled.
For Tanya, it’s comforting to know her children will have a caring faith community as they grow older. She’s grateful to the pastor of that community, Father Dennis Schaab, for offering understandable answers to her questions about Catholicism and assuring her she’d feel accepted at St. Mary’s.
“It takes all of us working together to welcome and integrate our new members into parish life,” McLin said. She said her role as RCIA coordinator is to identify new members’ gifts and talents, and pass that information on to ministry coordinators and committee members who will invite the Catholics to get involved.
About half of people who go through RCIA get actively involved in parish life, but only about 10 percent do so as much as the Moores have, she said.
“They have been such a blessing to our parish.”