Catechumen finds renewed faith through family

WANATAH – “Eye-opening.” “Uplifting.” These choice words reflect the spiritual journey that Kristine Horan, newly initiated into the Catholic faith, can only express through grateful tears.
“I feel more like myself,” Horan said. “Lighter.”  She indicated that life can be difficult, but now it is a little less so. “My husband says it this way, ‘Your Holy Spirit has been activated,’” Horan articulated, “and that’s the way it feels. There’s meaning behind it.” 
While Horan has been familiar with Catholicism since childhood, her excitement for the faith ignited in the last few years. Practicing religion had always been a personal matter, even within her own family. She and her five siblings were encouraged to make their own decisions in terms of their faith. 
“I’ve always believed in God,” Horan said. “I just never knew what I needed to do with it.”  
Horan understands that faith in God is a way of life and a mindset, one that presents outward for others to see. She witnessed this firsthand as her teenage son, who became Catholic two years ago, appeared to turn “a whole new page” in life, which, according to her, is “a great thing” and inspired her.
“You could just tell with his whole demeanor!” Horan expressed, adding that he now makes decisions with faith in mind.
Horan’s outlook on life has similarly shifted – her perspective pointing more toward God even in difficult times. Recently, her family suffered the loss of one of her sisters at only 32 years. Horan mentioned that, at first, she was mad; she questioned, “How could God let this happen to her?” In learning more through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program, her anger lessened, and her heart rested with an understanding of God’s plan.
“He has a plan for us and that was His plan for her,” Horan said. “Since she has passed, my other siblings and I have gotten closer. Everyone is coming together. They’re even coming to church...It still hurts that she’s gone, but that’s the only way I can explain it.”
Others have noticed this change in her as well. Horan’s sponsor and sister, Melissa Clancy, said that she really takes time to think about how to see and do things differently.
“I am just so happy that she decided to join RCIA. She is fully understanding and committed to what they learned…I see a total difference with her,” said Clancy, who attended all the classes she could alongside her sister, which for Clancy became a review of the program, as she converted to Catholicism just last year.  
“Maybe we should have done it when we were younger,” Clancy added, “but God has a calling for each of us.”
The two sisters, who have always been very close, deeply support each other’s journey in faith. “My sister and I can talk about anything, but when we talk about church, we simply don’t stop,” Horan shared.
Clancy agreed, adding that she never realized how much she needed prayer in her life. “To know there’s a place to go and worship God and be forgiven…It’s miraculous,” she said.
For Horan, Lent seemed easier this year. As she explained, the practices of fasting, abstinence and almsgiving carried greater significance beyond mere obligation. Not only that, but support from family and others in the faith community encouraged her. 
“I’ve had everyone behind me, and now, I’m doing it for a purpose,” she said, “not just because it’s what you’re supposed to do.”
In addition to her abstaining from pop as a Lenten sacrifice, Horan intentionally added more prayer to her everyday life. On the drive to work, she recites a daily rosary with her sister. She prays at work, too, such as on her lunch break, and makes time to pray at other times throughout the day. Horan also set out to read Scripture each day to complete one book of the Bible every week.  
“I’ve never felt so motivated,” Horan said. “It’s common that people will often start something and fall away from it. With this, though, I don’t feel like I’m going to give up. I never not want to feel this way.”
Horan acknowledges the encouragement of her husband, son, sister and the many others who stoked the Holy Spirit within her and have made her faith journey easier, including one of her brothers Casey Rzechula, who completed the RCIA program alongside her this Easter.
“I’m really excited,” Horan said, “and I’m glad that I have siblings I can do this with…The encouraging group around you just makes it easier.”


Caption: Kristine Horan (second from right) attends Mass with her son, Mark (right), sister and sponsor, Melissa Clancy (left), and brother, Casey Rzechula alongside his fiancé and sponsor, Beverly, at the Cathedra of the Holy Angels for the Rite of Call to Continuing Conversion on Nov. 26, 2023. They are grateful to journey in faith together with Bishop Robert J. McClory behind them. (Provided photo)