By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
KNOXVILLE — After more than three decades of searching for a church home, Abby Glann is ready to put down roots in the Catholic Church. The 36-year-old mom is set to enter the church during the Easter Vigil at St. Anthony Parish, and so are her four children.
As a child, she participated in worship services at Pentecostal and Presbyterian churches. Some of her extended family members are Catholic, so she attended Mass with them from time to time but found it hard to follow along. “It was a lot of standing up and sitting down and reciting things I didn’t understand.”
Still, she loved Jesus and was interested in learning more about Christianity in general. When she enrolled at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, she decided to study religion. “I wanted to get a Ph.D. and teach,” she recalled. Religion classes fascinated her, and she began to question what she thought she knew about Christianity. “Looking at the history of the church, it became clear that there is a lot missing in Protestant religions.” She talked to her grandmother, who had grown up Catholic. “She was not practicing at the time and (said she) missed it. I tend to be an introvert, so that’s about as far as it went at the time.”
Four years into college, Glann set aside her academic goals for family life after getting married to her husband, Andrew, and giving birth to their daughter, Deliverance (Liv). “She almost died! I took a break from everything (at that point),” Glann said. She continued to further her knowledge of religion and history by reading in her spare time.
As her family expanded and her children grew older, Glann found herself surrounded by Catholic moms in her homeschooling group. “Most of the other homeschool families were Catholic. I thought that was interesting!”
She had “pretty much given up” finding a faith home by the time she joined the homeschool group. “We attended so many churches, I lost count.” She’d start out hopeful, but the ending was always the same. A pastor would say something that was not in line with what she had studied about religion, “so we’d stop going.” Getting to know the homeschool families gave Glann a reason to reconsider the Catholic faith. “I felt like God was pulling me this way. I felt like I was missing out on a whole world of things. …I needed someone to get me in the door.”
Her friends in the homeschool group were happy to help. Glann chose to attend Mass with one of the moms, Heather Brady, in nearby Altoona, Iowa. Brady explained what was going on at the Mass, which helped Glann feel comfortable and confident. Two months later, she got in touch with Deacon Tom Hardie at her local parish, St. Anthony’s in Knoxville, and enrolled in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes.
Deacon Hardie recalled their first phone conversation. “After she gave me her story and we chatted a while it was obvious that she had been on a long journey and was ready to embrace the Catholic Church … her long hours of study finally intersected with her heart.”
Deacon Hardie said the domestic church is strong and very active in the Glann household.
At the Easter Vigil on March 31, Abby and her daughter, Liv, 13, will receive all three sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and Communion. Son Asher, who was previously baptized in the Lutheran church, will receive his first Communion. Youngest daughters Gwenyth and Irene will be baptized.
Glann’s sponsor, Sarah Davis of Des Moines , is thrilled that her friend of 10 years has embarked on this journey. “Through the years we’ve always enjoyed the many things we have in common — our love of books and history, cooking for our families and our Christian faith,” Davis said. “Now that she is joining the church, it’s just added another level of what we connect over. We send each other links to interesting church-related stories, discuss what the pope said this week or marvel at the story of the saint of the day. Hearing her excitement as she prepares to receive the sacraments is contagious and definitely helps me remember to not take the sacraments for granted.”