'Catholics Returning Home' Erases 209 Years Without Holy Communion
On Easter Sunday this year, seven Catholics who had been away from the Church and sacraments for a collective 209 years finally came home and received the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Father Henry Kuykendall, Deacon Jay Van Hoosier and Carole Daniels began a 10-week program of evangelization called Catholics Returning Home at St. John the Baptist Parish in Newburgh.
These seven people were away from the Church and sacraments for different reasons; some as a result of divorce and remarriage; others for hurt or anger misdirected toward God, or the Church or church-goers; but each say they came home again because they found acceptance, love and forgiveness in the Lord and each other.
Catholics Returning Home is a very simple program based on books and a program written by Sally Mews. It involves sharing personal faith stories and learning more about the changes since Vatican II – especially in the understanding of love, acceptance and the forgiveness of God, the Church and themselves.
Two couples who were divorced and remarried outside the Church had their marriages validated, and all received Holy Communion for the first time as returning Catholics on Easter Sunday. It is important to note that if one has been previously divorced and is currently remarried, a declaration of nullity (annulment) is needed before the new marriage in the Church occurs and before one may return to Holy Communion. One husband, who was not Catholic but had been going to Mass with his wife for 27 years, was received into full communion with the Catholic Church.
“St. John the Baptist’s parish mission statement is, ‘Be the heart of Jesus by sharing His mercy and love. Be the hands of Jesus by serving one another. Be the feet of Jesus by walking in others’ shoes.’ This was the perfect opportunity to live out this mission statement, and I was truly humbled by the experience,” Deacon Van Hoosier said. “It was a joy to be with these couples and individuals who walked this journey, and I look forward to being with them as they continue to grow in faith and love!”
“My continued prayer for the St. John Parish family is for open arms and loving hearts to reach out to those who feel estranged and alienated from Christ and His Church,” Daniels said, “and that with joyful and humble enthusiasm, we may accompany them on their journeys back home to their Catholic Church family.”
The group continues to meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the basement of St. John the Baptist Church. They welcome newcomers to join them at any meeting.
Catholics Returning Home is a 10-week program based on the following: sharing of faith stories and answering individuals’ personal “Why?” questions – why they left and why they want to come home; learning about the Bible and Sacraments, especially the Mass, Eucharist and Reconciliation and marriage; and any changes in the Church since they left. It is a conversion experience of forgiving oneself, forgiving others, and finding forgiveness.
Call Deacon Van Hoosier at 812-490-1000 for help in returning, or call Father Kuykendall for an appointment on Tuesday afternoons.