By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BLUE GRASS — When Janine Stevens’ grandfather was terminally ill and wished to see his granddaughter married, she and her fiancé Brian decided to get married. They were married in a civil ceremony, and not in the Catholic Church.
Brian was a baptized Catholic but had not received the other sacraments of initiation, Communion and confirmation. Janine was baptized at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Davenport and received the sacraments of Communion and confirmation at Our Lady of the River Catholic Church in LeClaire.
The couple did not have enough time before their marriage for Brian to participate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, they said. Now, 19 years after their marriage, Brian and the couple’s three children were initiated in the Catholic faith during the Easter Vigil at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Blue Grass.
Brian said that as a child and young adult he was not exposed to the Catholic faith because his parents were not active in the church. He said he has always been curious about the Catholic faith while attending Catholic funerals, weddings and other events and wanted to learn more.
About a year and a half ago, he had an informal chat with Deacon Terry Starns, the Parish Life Coordinator at St. Andrew. Brian said he felt very welcomed by Deacon Starns, who helped relieve some anxiety when Brian inquired about coming into the church.
Deacon Starns said Brian, a police officer, stopped in at the parish office after work one day, in full uniform. “He told me he and his wife had been talking about going to church and were looking for a place to attend.”
The two men talked for more than an hour and Deacon Starns gave Brian a tour of the church and parish facilities. Because RCIA classes were already underway in fall 2019, they decided to wait to begin the process.
Brian and Janine talked about the possibility of Brian and the kids entering the Catholic Church together. “We made a decision to do this as a family so we could all help each other learn and understand as we go through the journey,” Brian said. “We agreed it was a healthy decision.”
“Brian and his family started attending church right away. As soon as we began RCIA last fall, Brian, Janine and all three kids started attending classes faithfully every session possible,” Deacon Starns said.
Brian, Gus, Beau and Ruby attended most classes in person, Brian said. Janine chose to attend the classes with her family to support them and to help them in any way needed. Brian received the sacraments of Communion and confirmation. The three children received all three sacraments of initiation.
Coming into the church, Brian looked forward to learning more about the history of the church and strengthening his relationship with God. Gus, 14, looked forward to being baptized. Beau, 12, liked learning many prayers. And Ruby, 10, looked forward to being closer to God.
Prior to the Easter Vigil, Brian and Janine had their civil marriage validated in the Catholic Church on March 26. “We did it so our family could complete the journey,” Brian said.
They have been amazingly dedicated to the RCIA program, Deacon Starns said in an earlier interview. “They are an amazingly close family and such a welcome asset to St. Andrew Church. What a joy it will be at the Easter Vigil.”