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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

By Christie Hadley

Christianity has always been a part of my life, but I knew I was searching for something deeper, something more — something to bring me closer to God. I found that something in the Catholic Church, and in a few days I will stand in front of the congregation at St. Gabriel Parish in Glendale and be confirmed.

My journey began in 2005 when I was chosen by Fairfield Summer Community Theatre to play the part of Sister Margareta in “The Sound of Music.” To learn more about my part I decided to read The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. This is the story told by Maria Von Trapp in her own words. It starts with the well-known storyline of the musical but continues beyond into what happens after the curtains close.

Christie Hadley (Courtesy photo)

What the audience doesn’t see in the musical is what the family went through during their escape from Austria. They left with just the clothes on their backs — no supplies, no plans. There were many times when they didn’t know where they would sleep or if they’d be able to feed their family. But throughout these hard times, Maria’s faith never wavered. She truly trusted that God would provide for her family, and He did every time.

I remember starting to cry while I was reading one particularly stirring account. I said a prayer in that moment that I would have the faith to trust in God the same way that Maria did. I wanted to be as strong as she was. I wanted to believe the way that she did. It was then that I knew I wanted to join the Catholic Church.

It has taken me a few years to make the commitment to joining the church. I knew I wanted this to change my life, and I needed to be ready and open to it. This year seemed like the right time, and the process has helped me grow as a person in ways that I never could have expected.

I started the RCIA classes last September. For a few hours every Saturday we’ve talked about faith, how and why the Catholic Church does what they do and how to grow closer to God. We talk about how God calls us to do the best at what we’ve been called to do right now, but to always look forward to see if there is something more that we can be doing. We’ve talked about how to see God in the journey of life. This has been especially meaningful recently.

The nation’s economic crisis hit really close to home a few months ago when my fiancé was faced with the loss of a job. In the RCIA class we discussed “Footprints” and how even at times like these, God is carrying us.

I have discovered in a very personal way that even in times of need, God is providing for me in the same way that he provided for Maria and the von Trapp Family. In 2005 I prayed that I would have the faith to trust in God. Through this process I am finding that my faith has been there all along.

I went from not going to church to attending weekly. I went from not praying at all to praying every single day — sometimes more than once. I’ve become a calmer, much more centered person. I’ve gained more perspective; and when things are upsetting, I know that I’m not going through it alone.

Lent has been especially meaningful as I prepare for my first Communion. I yearn to take part in the Eucharist. I want to become Christ’s hands and feet and to bring Him out into my every day life.

There is something so powerful about becoming a part of something that is much bigger than just one person: in knowing that every Sunday we are participating in something that was handed down from the Apostles; in knowing that all Catholics are hearing the same readings and participating in the same traditions no matter where they are in the world.

There is something powerful in knowing that the faith and tradition of the Catholic Church has helped many people through many hard times in the past and will be the steady rock for any hardships in the future.

I’ve finally found what I was searching for; something to fill the piece of me that was missing. I know that there is something bigger waiting for me, something more important for me to do with my life, something to belong to. In a few days I will be confirmed into the Catholic Church. And it feels like I’m coming home.

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