Home Our Diocese Rough patch helps guide St. Joseph parishioner Todd Zaladonis to Catholic Church

Rough patch helps guide St. Joseph parishioner Todd Zaladonis to Catholic Church

Todd Zaladonis will join the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil at St. Joseph Church in Middletown.

Todd Zaladonis had grown up as a consistent churchgoer in northeast Pennsylvania, but a series of events in his life had contributed to his drifting away over the years. His career brought him to Delaware in August 2015, and although it took a few more years, he found a home in the Catholic Church.

He will formally join the church on April 16 at the Easter Vigil at St. Joseph Church in Middletown after completing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.

He said his grandmother was very involved in the family’s Methodist church and made sure her flock did not stray too far away. Zaladonis was a lay leader in his church. But circumstances changed. He moved to Memphis in 2009, and his journey away from his faith began.

“I moved to a new city, and I didn’t really have any contacts down there,” he said recently.

His first child, a daughter, was born in 2011. He and his wife moved back to Pennsylvania and started going to his childhood church once more. After his grandmother died at age 95, however, “we all started to kind of drift apart.”

He came to Delaware to work for the Dupont Co. in 2015, and he said his life “kind of went haywire for a little bit.” His wife, Rachel, was diagnosed with cancer, and his father had some personal issues.

“That was a very hard period of my life, but it was a call for me to come back to my faith,” he said.

Coworkers suggested some Methodist churches in the area, but, Zaladonis said, “none of them felt right. Maybe it was my fault.” He still wanted to resurrect his faith life, so he continued to search for the right fit. A good friend of his suggested St. Joseph’s. Zaladonis didn’t really give it much thought, but after continued efforts to find a spiritual home were unsuccessful, he gave it a shot. He said listening to some podcasts about Catholicism opened his eyes a bit and were helpful. He changed his mind about the Catholic option last November.

“I kind of worked up the courage to walk into St. Joe’s,” he said. “It’s a really nice, modern church. It was filled with people of all different ages. People were friendly to me.”

Zaladonis, 43, doesn’t recall exactly what the homily was about that day, but something felt different than at the other churches. He knew he couldn’t receive Communion, but he kept going back.

“After a month of going on my own, I reached out to the church and asked what I had to do to become a member,” he said.

He got to know Deacon Mike Boyd, who coordinates RCIA at the parish, and Msgr. David Kelley, the pastor, and others at the parish, and he began preparations to enter the faith. He said he has been re-learning much of the information he learned as a youngster, but “I feel like I’m learning a lot of stuff for the first time.”

A few of the aspects of Catholicism that have stood out to him are the devotion to the Blessed Mother, and the Real Presence.

“I’m still learning a lot about Mary and how she fits in with everything,” he said.

He is excited for his first Communion. “Every Sunday you get to experience Jesus right then and there.”

Zaladonis also will be confirmed at the Easter Vigil. He has already been baptized.

He hasn’t thought about how he’ll become involved at St. Joe’s just yet. His wife is Lutheran and has not expressed interest in converting, but she has been supportive, he said.

In his free time, Zaladonis likes to spend time with his family, which also includes an 8-year-old son. They like to go for hikes and roller blade. He also plays guitar, primarily the music he knew in high school, “whatever tickles my fancy.” He also enjoys reading and is currently into philosophy, and he likes podcasts.

He views the Easter Vigil as just the start of his faith journey.

“Honestly, I can’t wait to get there. I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. There’s so much more out there to learn.”