To know, love and serve God is the mission of the Church. At this Saturday’s Easter Vigil, the parish will welcome two new Catholics into the Church who have lived the mission but will now formalize their initiation.
Forrest Ashwood and Rich Miller have been active at St. Thomas More for years. The catch? Neither had been baptized. Both of their families are very active in the parish and school. While their personal paths to the Easter Vigil are different, they will now share a faith that they have been modeling to those around them for years.
“For me this is the missing piece, I most look forward to receiving Christ…the source and summit,” said Forrest.
Both Forrest and Rich are coaches in our CYO program. In addition, both the Ashwoods and the Millers have three children who have been active in our day-school, PSR program, youth ministry and athletics. And the similarities don’t stop there, Forrest and Rich approached the parish’s youth minister and athletic director, Jeff Stutzman, to ask about entering the Church not knowing about the other. Jeff put them in touch with Deacon Don.
When asked to share why he wanted become Catholic, Rich said, “I want to have a deeper relationship with God. This is important to me because it will give me more tools to become an even better husband and father. I also want to lead by example for the young athletes I mentor.”
While athletics was not necessarily the impetus for formally joining the church, both men picked their coaching partners as sponsors. Rich chose Greg Liebert with whom he has been coaching with for a couple years and Forrest asked Jeff Stutzman (they have been coaching for six years together).
Regarding his choice for a sponsor Rich said, “I chose Greg because of his commitment to the church and his family. Greg has always been a great friend and mentor to me.”
In reflecting on this moment at a recent athletic banquet Jeff said, “This is one my proudest moments with athletics. Nothing we do as far as championships or records comes close to the fact that two of our coaches, with two of our coaches by their side, are entering the Church.” He added with a smile, “I might just put a banner up in the gym to mark the occasion.”
Forrest and Rich have been attending weekly formation sessions and other rites during weekend liturgies. Deacon Don and his wife Beth have been preparing them for initiation into the Church.
“Beth and I are grateful for these men because they are husbands, fathers, workers, and coaches. This is a reflection of the people around them, their wives, families, and friends. It is a journey we walk as individuals but in the strength of the Spirit together,” said Deacon Don.
All are welcome to join Rich and Forrest at this year’s Easter Vigil at 8:30pm on Saturday, April 16.
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