Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 25, 2002
Jesus softens hardened hearts
Brian and Tammy Thompson wanted nothing to do with religion; now they're becoming Catholic
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Rocky Mountain House
Even though Brian Thompson and his wife Tammy were exposed to Christian beliefs as children, they grew up to reject Christianity and its teachings. They recall swearing off God as teens and even mocking those who believe.
Now the Thompsons along with teacher Jennifer Johnstone are joining the Catholic Church. The Rocky Mountain House trio are among almost 300 adults from across the Edmonton Archdiocese who will be formally received into the Church at the Easter Vigil March 30. The Thompsons' children, Faith, 3, and Andrew, 2, will also be baptized at the vigil.
So enthused are the Thompsons with their re-encounter with the faith that in mid-March they had their Las Vegas marriage blessed by the Church.
But as they admit, it wasn't an easy journey. Tammy, 27, grew up believing she had been baptized Protestant but recently found out she had not been baptized at all.
During elementary school she went to Salvation Army Sunday school for a few years strictly by her own choice. In her teenage years, however, she decided religion was simply "baloney."
"In my teens I swore off God as non-existing," she recalled. "If it couldn't mathematically or scientifically be explained, I didn't believe it. I found anybody religious to be annoying and preachy."
This continued into her twenties until Tammy became pregnant with her first child four years ago. "The whole idea of being able to create a human being from single cells became a miracle to me and I began to reevaluate my entire life, realizing life didn't just happen."
Brian, 28, was baptized a Catholic as a child but almost never went to church. His father let him make his own decision. "I decided I was an atheist," he recalled. "I did not believe in God and I thought those who did were weak-minded and foolish. Science was my religion."
As a young man out of high school Brian served with the United Nations as a peacekeeper in Cyprus and saw the devastation caused by a "religious" conflict. Later travels took him to Europe, Israel and Egypt.
"I saw the birthplace of Jesus, the Wailing Wall and the pyramids," he recalls. "The significance of these sites was lost on me. I was interested in the history only."
He came home and spent his early twenties travelling and going to school. At age 24 he married his high school sweetheart, Tammy, in Las Vegas. They had met and dated while studying in Red Deer, their hometown.
"During those years I drank too much and I had no direction," Brian recalled. "My drinking became a problem. I had come to the lowest point of my life."
One afternoon Brian, now a gas plant operator in Rocky, woke up after a night of partying, saw a light and felt the presence of God. "I could not explain this away with science," he says. "For the first time in my life I knew peace. I could deny God no longer."
Soon after that the Thompsons had a baby girl, whom they named Faith Hope after their newly found faith. The problem the couple now faced was what church to attend. It took them three years to make a decision.
"We were somewhat intimidated and procrastinated a bit," Brian said. "We chose the Catholic Church because it was the original created by Christ." His Baptism as a Catholic also influenced their decision.
The Thompsons and Johnstone have been attending preparation classes through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) since last September. Through the two-hour long weekly meetings they are taught the basic tenets of the Catholic faith, from the sacraments to the commandments.
"It's been a very positive experience," Brian said. "The RCIA people have been very supportive and I have made a lot of friends."
Johnstone, a 30-year-old British Columbia native who teaches Grade 4 at St. Matthew Catholic School, says her faith has been growing ever since she joined the RCIA.
"Learning about God and the Catholic faith in such a welcoming environment has been very meaningful and exciting for me."
Brian will receive the sacrament of Confirmation at the Easter Vigil. But Tammy and Johnstone, who have never been baptized, will be both baptized and confirmed into the faith at the vigil.
"It's going to be a big day," Tammy said. "I think it is going to be a very emotional day. I think it's going to mean a lot to me."
RCIA coordinator Pat McDonald says the vigil will not be the end of the journey for the trio. They will continue attending classes until Pentecost and then "we'll keep in contact with them and try to encourage them to get involved in the Church," he said.
That's been the experience in Rocky. Because McDonald and his wife Joan don't leave new Catholics alone, most of them end up serving in different lay ministries in the parish. Three women who joined the Church last year are all active members of the parish Catholic Women's League.