Called to the Faith
It was last summer when Associate Veronica Buchanan, with the help of S. Mary Caroline Marchal, began looking for a parish to call home. The pair visited a number of locations throughout the Cincinnati area, hoping to get a sense of the spirit of each parish. It turned out that the search took them to a parish steeped in Sisters of Charity connections. “St. Dominic was what really called to me at the time,” Veronica remembered. “Father Chris Lack and Father Jim Walsh are the pastors there and their homilies were so open and inspiring and also something that you feel you could do.”
Her search to find the right parish was just the beginning of a bigger call she had been feeling for some time. Following the passing of her father in 2020, Veronica sensed that it might be the right time to join the Catholic Church. While the pandemic delayed her ability to further pursue the idea, once things began to open back up, she knew she was ready. In September 2021 Veronica began the RCIA program at St. Dominic. She and her small group met weekly with coordinator Karen Brandstetter to discuss and learn about the faith. Her sponsor, Renee Kandra, a parishioner at St. Dominic, was the perfect companion to ground her and open up her perspective throughout the process. And, as chance would have it, Renee is familiar with the Sisters of Charity Community.
As the Archivist for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, as well as an SC Associate, Veronica said she began to see religion in a different light after starting to work at the Mount. Her extended family was evangelical Christian and she explained that she never felt welcome or included as a member of that faith. “Coming here and learning about the Sisters and their charism and how open they are and welcoming to so many people in various stages of their journeys, that was so inspiring,” she recalled. “That’s why I became an Associate. I really felt that call to the charism of the Community and then from there it was how do I deepen that?”
At St. Dominic she felt at home. She saw many familiar faces – Sisters and Associates – seated in the pews and serving the parish in various capacities. Connecting with other parishioners and feeling their joy and enthusiasm for her and fellow RCIA participants was a surprising yet invigorating bonus. “They would tell us we were inspirations to the members of the parish; those who have been lifelong Catholics. They were encouraged seeing so many new people join the faith on their own, going through the process anew and coming from a different faith background or culture. I look forward to seeing how our journey continues at St. Dominic.”
Walking with her throughout this past year have been a number of SC Community members. In addition to S. Mary Caroline, S. Delia Sizler served as the group’s spiritual guide through many programs. Veronica said one that particularly stood out was a class on Catholic Social Teaching. S. Dee also shared stories from her ministry at The Crossroads Center as well as powerful personal reflections. “For me, she actually stood in as my sponsor during the Rite of Acceptance before Karen was able to connect with Renee,” says Veronica. “Renee came on just a week or so later, but it was really special to have S. Dee there for that moment.”
As she reflects on the journey leading up to this year’s Easter Vigil, Veronica feels deeply that she was meant for this path and to be doing so with this particular group of people. “God chose us; he knows our path and our gifts even before we are born because that’s how we were intended to be. Throughout the process it felt like that a lot, everyone brought their own perspectives and gifts. We shared so much in those weekly meetings. It seemed like happen stance but it was meant to be.”
Veronica is grateful to share her experience with others. “It’s been incredibly inspiring and empowering,” she reflects, “more so than I ever thought last fall when it started. Hopefully it might inspire others to consider it if they’re on the fence, I’m so glad I did.”