Long Read: Sisters in Christ | Portraits of Westphalia's young converts


Long Read: Sisters in Christ | Portraits of Westphalia’s young converts

Meet the young woman of Westphalia who are preparing to be received into the Catholic Church at Easter. Together, they are sisters in Christ.

“They’re just beautiful people, they are the future of our Church, and God has special things planned for each one of them,” says Barb Spitzly, who co-directs the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults program at Saint Mary parish in Westphalia with Associate Pastor, Father Peter Lawrence.

“There’s so much confusion in the world right now, you really see the master of confusion working, and what I’ve noticed about this group of young women is they want truth, they want stability, they want peace, and they have found it in Jesus and they found it in the Church.”

In total there are six young women being received into the Church at Saint Mary in Westphalia this Easter. Left to right they are: Anneliese Hummel; Madalynne Lear; Alexis Jones; Isabell Helman; and Julia Irrer. Not pictured is Hannah Densmore. Here are their very personal stories:

• Julia Irrer: “I’m married to Austin and am a full-time mom to three young children, two girls and a boy. I grew up non-denominational and then I met my husband out here, Westphalia. He’s Catholic and is actually my sponsor Kristina’s brother. Our eldest child goes to the school next door and makes her First Holy Communion this year. So, it is kind of fun to go through all this with her.”

“As we approach Easter, I’m nervous as I don’t like big crowds but in terms of the Faith? No. I’m pretty confident. Learning about the Catholic faith has been a great experience and, especially, learning about Mary.”

• Anneliese Hummel: “I’m a supply chain worker at a manufacturing company. I am originally from Carson City but went to school at Pewamo-Westphalia High and now live in Saint Johns. I’m engaged and looking forward to getting married to Brendan this August.”

“I also grew up non-denominational and have had a relationship with Jesus my whole life. Then I met a boy from Westphalia and here we are! I just like the truth behind the Catholic Church that you don’t in the Protestant church. In other denominations you see a lot of the little things but it is the big things, the big picture that is missing and that’s what we get to experience from becoming part of the Church.”

• Isabell Helman: “I’m 17-years-old and a Junior at Pewamo-Westphalia High School. I want to go to college to become an ultrasound technician and then I plan on getting married.”

“My parents are both baptized Catholics but are lapsed and, so, I never went to church as a kid and then, slowly, as I’ve been growing up, I’ve been seeing God in all sorts of places and I just knew I wanted to pursue that, I wanted to get closer to that.”

“So, I moved to Pewamo-Westphalia High School where most people are Catholic and just being surrounded by it made me realize more and more how much I love it. I started getting more and more involved with religion classes, asking my Catholic friends questions, watching movies, and now I’m here.”

“I’m really excited. I’ve wanted this for a really long time. So, it’s really beautiful seeing it coming together.”

• Alexis Jones: “I go to school full-time at Lansing Community College where I study insurance & risk management and business management and I also work full-time at an insurance agency.”

“My family is Catholic and, so, lots of my aunts would go to church and I’d go with them but my mom never raised me in a church. So, another person involved in this group asked if I was interested in joining but it wasn’t until my sister passed away six months ago that I thought, ‘I probably need like a little more positivity in my life’.”

“When I was growing up, going to church always made me happy. So, I was like, ‘I think I want to join and see how it has an impact on my life’ and it’s been great.”

“As we approach Easter, I’m actually really excited. I’ve learned a lot and feel like every Sunday [when I go to Mass] is a good day and every Thursday [when our group gathers] is a good day.”

“As for receiving Our Lord in the Eucharistic for the first time? I’m nervous but super excited. I feel like I might cry that day.”

• Madalynne Lear: “I’m 18-years-old and a senior at Portland High School. I hope to go to Lansing Community College to do early education and become a teacher.”

“I actually grew up Catholic, my whole family is Catholic, but when I was about middle school we just stopped going to church and then, last year, I was like: ‘I really want to be part of this again and I started going back to Mass. I’ve been baptized and made my First Holy Communion so, at Easter, I’ll be confirmed.”

“I’m feeling very excited. Excited to be more involved in the Church. I’ve always wanted to do this. So, I’m excited to take the next step.”

“This journey has brought a lot into my life. I’m happier. I love going to church on Sundays and I love being a part of this group.”

Please pray for these young women as they prepare for Easter. Our Lady, Mother of the Church, pray for them.

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