COLUMBIA, Mo.– “Are you OK denying God? One of his disciples did and that will be forever part of his testimony. Is that what you want in yours?”
That’s a question Anna Launius poses to anyone who, like her, has encountered resistance from friends or loved ones along the journey toward becoming Catholic.
“The easy answer is to deny, but that’s not what we’re called to do,” she said. “We’re called to be the light. Don’t hide from God.”
Launius, a member of St. Mary Parish in Shelbina, and her four children took part in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion with Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City Feb. 26 in Columbia. They are preparing to be received into the church at Easter through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA.
“The waiting, it brings more to it,” Launius told The Catholic Missourian, the diocesan newspaper. “Going through the process, it’s such a big deal that you’re in that time of waiting. It’s beautiful.”
She was raised in a devout family in a Christian faith tradition, but some friends and family members have advised her not to become Catholic.
“Some Protestants think Catholics worship Mary and worship the saints,” she said. “Well, the first thing we talked about in RCIA was that we don’t worship Mary and the saints!”
Launius had her own concerns when she started her journey.
“I stepped into it very skeptical, like, ‘What’s the catch?'” she said, “As in, ‘Why am I not supposed to be Catholic?'”
The COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for her, her husband and their four sons. “It changed a lot of our day-to-day lives,” she said.
She realized that she had put growing in her faith on the back burner and was taking it for granted.
“We went to church, read the Bible, prayed and did our devotionals,” she said, “but something was missing.”
She had heard about people praying the rosary, so she gave it a try.
“I think the rosary was put into our lives at such a time that we needed it — that I needed it,” she said.
She wanted to know more about Catholicism. What she found was the fullness of the Bible, 2,000 years of church teaching, and the authority of the Magisterium, handed by Christ to the Apostles and down through the centuries.
“It’s been almost a three-year process for me, but that’s why I’m becoming Catholic,” Launius said.
She wanted to take part in RCIA last year, but the timing wasn’t right.
“So I got to experience figuring out the Mass for myself and trying to understand things and getting to research it on my own,” she stated, “which is very much out of my comfort zone.
“I think that was a testament in itself, a surrender — ‘This is the fear I have, so I’m letting God guide this. There’s no way I can do this on my own,'” she said.
Now, she gets to watch her children learn their prayers and connect with other families in the parish and grow in their relationship with God.
“It’s been beautiful!” she stated.
She said she’s excited for her fellow adult candidates and catechumens in her RCIA group. “I’m delighted to see them go through this process, and their witness unfolding before all these people.”
She’s grateful for all the hard work and commitment her fellow parishioners have shown toward helping them all prepare for their initiation.
All of this highlights for her the importance of faith and family, at home and in the community — something she grew up treasuring and now believes will reach fruition in her initiation into the Catholic Church.
“I’m losing some family over this,” she acknowledged. “What I hope is that God is working through all of this — that they will set out to try to prove me wrong and wind up coming to the same conclusion I’ve come to — that God is the reason why we are becoming Catholic.
“I can’t wait for them to have that ‘aha’ moment!” she said. “I know it’s gonna’ happen.”
She asked for prayers for her to “just be that light that God is needing me to be.”
“I am taking this journey for myself but I’m also trying to make sure that that light is being shown for my children and for my family,” she said.