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4/5/2012 8:50:00 AM
New Catholics at Easter: Coming home to Rome
Catholic Sentinel photo by Gerry Lewin
Laura Paxton will come Catholic Saturday night at St. Mary Church in Eugene.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Gerry Lewin
Laura Paxton will come Catholic Saturday night at St. Mary Church in Eugene.
Albany
St. Mary
Sabrina Burroughs, Lisa Ochoa, Marilyn Carranza, Richelle Hayes, Janet Ramsey, Nicole Wilson, Jacobo Lopez, Kenneth Ciullo, Konnor Ciullo, Guadalupe Lopez Martinez, Walter Binek, Nathan Webb, Lilianna Ochoa, Mark Diego Ochoa
Aloha
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Zoraida Hernandez, James Toby King, Blanca Ornellas, Llarely Nuñez Muñoz, Ashley Pech-Nuñez, Kaadish Oaxaca, Jesus Oaxaca, Angela Regino, Vidal Cruz Luna, Jorge Navarro, Mitchell Navarro, Felix Rodriguez
Ashland
Our Lady of the Mountain
Micaela Bishop, William Heinrich, Drew Herrera, Sylvia Horton, Julie Anne Morgan, Ginger Olsen, Jacquelyn Sims, Amy Tumbaga, Mia Tumbaga, Noah Tumbaga, Daniel Wyatt
Bandon
Holy Trinity
Susan Snead, Donna Willson
Banks
St. Francis Assisi
Peter Day, Edward Hobart, Chelsea Ewing, Andrea Madson, Diane Vidmantas
Beaverton
Holy Trinity
Irwan Luwandi, Laura Leonard, Bhargava Ravoori, Timothy Coffey, James Ihara, Graham Dudik, Wendy Turnbull, Alex Reiten, Casey Bartlett, Karilena Xander, Dave Shuster, Tiffany Le, Casey Yamashita, Jadalinn Balon, Emisi Bashonga, Okole Bashonga, Micah Bernardo, Madison Dixon, Anna Forquer, Jayann Franco, Antonio Hernandez, Shannon Maness, Stephen Maness, Alicia Mariano, Emilee Nguyen, Ethan Nguyen, Haley Oya, Katie Palka, Olivia Quintana, Troy Rabang, Devin Rogers, Ana Sabarots, Joaquin Sabarots, Mora Sabarots, Elizabeth Scales, Ryan Scales, Samantha Scales, Elsa Tao, Jaclyn Valenton, Megan Jenkins, Kenneth Xander, John Stimac, Yuvonne Allison, Marilyn Armony, Dan McMullen, Michael Patton, Becky Manuel, Karl Borg, Taylor Ceddia, Tracy Ceddia, Lindy Bell, Sandi Colner, Grace Carper, Joey Xander, Jessica Tran
St. Cecilia
Robert Coakley, Robert Denniston, Rachel Hagerman, Bane Lish, Katherine Lish, Dhasa Raaberg, Hannah Raaberg, Nicholas Raaberg, Charles Stratton, Cassandra Romero Bautista, Kaitlyn Clarizo, Richard Ladd, Kim Moser, Michael Phillips, Gregory Wynne
Canby
St. Patrick
Aaron Branum, Keila Coleman, Derek Helm, Atzel Aguirre Alvalado, Melissa Martínez, Katie Pankey, Yahir Mendoza-Roman, Nayeli Ramos, Cecilia Rodríguez, Elyse Rodríguez, Joshua Zamudio-Roman, Joeylynn Baguio
Coos Bay
St. Monica
Kimberly Warren
Cornelius
St. Alexander
Giovonnie Galván , Diamora Castañeda Cortez, Alexis Daniel Chávez Sánchez, María del Carmen Chávez Sánchez, Bradley Flores Torres, Luz Liliana Flores Torres, Andrea Jasmine Hernández Paniagua, Fabían Francisco Herrarte-Villa, Josh Riley Lee, Ernesto López Haas, Mikaela Angelea Rubio, Erick Sebástian Villa Flores, Katy Azucena Villa Flores
Corvallis
St. Mary
Mariah Ward, Meghan Dalton, Andrew Strait Jones, Dolly Vittorine, Monica Bletcher, Michael Davidson, Joshua Blevans, Raul Rascon, Paul Lyon, Julie Derryberry, Judith Reed, Sarah Wright, Melissa Cookingham
Eugene
St. Jude
Jonathan Jackson, Lisa Kochevar, Stephen Hull, Deborah Waschow, Eric Crovetto
St. Mark
Lizette Vasquez Contreras, Diego Adolfo Contreras
St. Paul
Dale Bachman, Anders Reinhard, Sophia DiPaolo, Connor Deptuch, Deb Brady
St. Peter
Ryan McCullen, Jacquelyn Roos Kelly
Forest Grove
St. Anthony
Mansik Jang, Bryn Erdmann, Melissa Garcia, Iris Merino Alvarez, Yesenia Merino Alvarez
Gervais
Sacred Heart St. Louis
Lily Schott
Grants Pass
St. Anne
Victoria Gallegos, Sunny Barrett, Mary Hunphery, Trina Marks, Keith Shaver, Dan Stephens
Gresham
St. Henry
Andy Anderson, Tonya Byrne, Christy Benoit, Lindy Culbertson, Jarrd Caito, Christina Dorning, Tammy Caito, Alissa Gilines, Jaylyn Colipano, Neil Jackson, Larry Kramer, Tonya King, Michael Martinez, Sherri Tano, Tim Page, Ed Wiedenman, Hallie Stewart, Charlie Tarply, Matt Thoman, Rose Thoman
Hillsboro
St. Matthew
Marvin Matias, Alex Canpista, John Rockwell, James Champers
Junction City
St. Helen
Robert Barnes, Harry Crabtree, Christine Moes, Julie Fox Stroda, Vanessa Ayón
Lake Oswego
Our Lady of the Lake
Brisa Bangs, Jacob Bangs, Aubrey Ellerbruch, Andrew Ellerbruch, Elise Tamsen Martin, Evan Stouts, Linsay Jaschob, Hance Woody, Alain Kent, Andrea Arnot, Larry Mylnechuk, Jillian Ramsey
LaPine
Holy Redeemer
Donna Misko, Deanna Heal, Sean Hunt
Lebanon
St. Edward
Andrew Naegeli, Karyann Lane, Hannah Linebarger, Marcos Martinez, Shelby Naegeli, Jasmine Delgato, Bodie Gibson, Ryan Jensen
Medford
Sacred Heart
Cynthia Dolan, Matthew Spivey, Michael McKay, Aiden McKay, Miquel Shelide, Brandon Benitez, Amanda Long, Thomas Abbott, Bridget Benitez, Jean Shingle, Mryna Savage, Charles Williams, Scott Smith, Mary Jo Anderson
Milwaukie
Christ the King
Don Phillips, Bob Boughn, Dave Snyder, Jonathan Snyder, Lee Roundtree, Kristie Marzan, Kristin Brown, Diamond Gayomali, Richard Rogachevsky, Rosalie Mendelson, Megan Thyken
St. John the Baptist
Brian Emmel, Andrea Guadalupe Flores, Juan Antonio Flores, Rachel Martell, Samantha McGinnis, Adrian Meraz, Edit Enedina Corona Meraz, Julio Meraz, Fernardo Vazquez Navarro, Amoldo Rodriguez Laes, Edgar Gomez Torres, Elizabeth “Lisa” Jones-Stohosky, Adrian Bedinger, Mia Clark, Sebastian Clark, Elijah Clark, Lukas Clark, Hector Estrada Baez, Rebeca Jimenez Estudillo, Beatriz Gomez, Stephen Martell Hayden Martell, Hannah Martell, Brooke Ortiz, Robert VanZant, Michael VanZant, and Natianiel VanZant
Newport
Sacred Heart
Robert Hager, Josue Sanchez Valencia, Rosalyn Sanchez Valencia
North Bend
Holy Redeemer
Seth Burch, Tom Davis, Roseleigh Hill, Ward Byer, James Collatt, Joseph Nyleen, Carlene Stinson, Anita Troxell
Ontario
Blessed Sacrament
Stephanie Bellows, Derek Martin, Adan Alberto Olivas Melendrez, Emmanuel Ramirez, Martin Guzman Roman, Nettie Silva, Drake Herrera, Leticia Hernandez, Gloria Magallon Luna
Oregon City
St. John the Apostle
Deb Baucom, Liberty Coe, Anthony Hugo, Abraham Jaimes, Teri Larios, Anne McCoy, David McPike, Ansis Zuments, Bruce Coe, Michelle Grzelewski, Les Larios, Paul Mccoy, Jennifer Self, Natalie Trust, Jordan Arp, Charles Mccoy, Cora Mccoy, Emily Mccoy, Samuel Mccoy, April Romero,  Melina Romero, Yulisa Romero
Portland
All Saints
Jamie Guinn, Tedd Dodd, Wendy Steiner
Cathedral
Cliff Anderson, Deborah Bogle-Tao, Lew Church, Peter Eschright, Draco Ferguson, Ian Gustafson, Teresa Hayes, Ilse John, Michael Kahut, Steve LamAnita LeBlanc, Alan Lohner, Joseph Lohner, Tamera Maxwell, Jazmin Rivers, Gerald Spann, Lisa Surber, Debra Williams, Jaymes Williams, Tanya Zuber
Holy Cross
Sophia Chavez, Mario Osorio
Holy Family
Caitlin Fouts, Curran Fouts, Albert Barbera, Laura Chaney, David Jackson, Logan Kelly, Sawyer Kelly, Quincy Kelly, Vincenzo Logan, Tom O'Gara, Katie O'Gara, Sara Kelly, Jane Jones, Marie Luft, Darlene Van Kuren Butsch
Immaculate Heart
Lansana Bangura, Amando Tanedo, Seyedeh Jalalik
St. Agatha
Celeste Doneen, Cameron Hamilton, David Kingsella, Kimberly Kingsella, Dennis Kroy, Megan Maitland, Curtis Piantes, Kaitlyn Kingsella
St. Charles
Olivia Tapfer, Hailey Nicholas, Anquette Collins, Justece McKinney-Craig, Angie Ifenuk
St. Clare
Tyler Thompson, Paul Woodland, Jason Beam, Lizzie Jones, Gary Livermore, Michael Meltzer, Ian McMahon, Aly McMahon, Ella McMahon, Paul Phelps
St. Ignatius
Michael Clark, Danilo G. Degoma Jr., Sarah Nolan, Sean Phillips, Courtney Wong, Trung Bui, Branden Jost, Brandon Lepley
St. John Fisher
Curtis Glaccum, John Keppel, Lindsey Schrek, Sharon Davis, Betsie Droukas, Christine Garcia, Matthew Salser
St. Joseph the Worker
Dan Cox, Shaine Dailey, Julie Dailey, Patti Dyer, Margie Henrikson, Thuy Anh Nguuen, Jennifer Rekofre, Gary Smith, Floyd Weldon, Tim Yuhasz, Kimberly Russel, Stacey Asa, Michael Garcellano, Darin Louks, Andrian Leos, Jessica Seifert, TJ Grant
St. Juan Diego
Edward Gouw, Liana Hebert, Kyle Mabey, Arthur Bahrs, Eugene Boltz, Elina Gouw, Michelle Gouw, Wayne Hudson, Sarah Richmond, Mark Weston, Gary Wilkes, Edward Hebert, Jennifer Worth
St. Michael
Raushan Sakieyva, Marty Owens, Brian Morris, Michael Colin, Matt Pelick, Aigul Yessimova
St. Phil Neri
Angel Almanza
St. Rita
Christina Bethel, Michael Wallingford, Luis F. Soto Nampula, Jorge Soto, Kristina Le, Yunnier de Leon Juan, Josue de Leon Juan
St. Stephen
James Thanh Quach, Patrick Hartigan
St. Therese
Daniel Clark, Angie Barnett, Kim Muncy, Tina Rask, Cecelia Do
St. Thomas More
Barbara Criscitiello, Sarah Fischer, Dwight Cramer, Jason Huber
Redland
St. Philp Benizi
Nina Baurer, Danielle Fomo
Redmond
St. Thomas
Kendall Current, Jeremy Cross, Susan Milne
Salem
Queen of Peace
Molly Blankenship, Rachel Bies, Haylee Martinez, Sara Morgan, Bambi Fuller, Preston Sevits, Amadea Baxter, Joshua Fuller, Adina Platz, Lauren Nunnellee, Ben Madison, Alicia Bennett, Edwin Maestas, Gary Stanley, Scott Rapp, Brian Widing, Bob Hill
Sandy
St. Michael
Susan E. Brewster
Sherwood
St. Francis
Alison Bingham, Sandra Greenslitt, Cynthia Heydel, Christopher Robinson
Silverton
St. Paul
Lillian Carroll, Colin Ireland, Anthony Carmack, Rick Carroll
Stayton
Immaculate Conception
Kelsey Brubaker, Kayla Clark, Judy Downer, Pamela Duman, Brenda Fery, Candi Hedrick, Emma Hedick, Faith Hedrick, Fisher Hedrick, Jeremy Hedrick, Kellen Jorgensen, Lainey Jorgensen, Stephanie Jorgensen, Matthew Kelly, Kerlyn Masters, Marie Papathanasopoulos, Anthony Papathanasopoulos, Dustin Raschein, Amanda Rojas, Isabella Rojas, Antonia Rojas
Sweet Home
St. Helen
Kerry Pozder
Tigard
St. Anthony
Lucero Aguilar, Rolando Albor, Bianca Bumpers, Carlos Diaz, Aster Gizaw, Carol Hall, Linda Rae Hoban, Jaxier Juarez, Michelle Kleyne, Aimee McAuliffe, Itzel Mara, Jessica Martinez, Rosabella Meija, Samuel Molina, Sergio Monterde, Louis Noyola, Jennifer Olvera, Jose Olvera, Dulce Rodríguez, Brenda Rodríguez, Linda Vergara, Anne Aguilar Garcia, Jose Castillo, Giovanni Falcon, Christian Gonzalez, Hillary Gonzalez, Tin Huynh, Carlos Ernesto Juarez Partida, Shelley Kaufmann, Michelle Kleyne, Lester Kruse, Joseph Linares Loeza, Craig Minsinger, Lockheed Momotaro, Josiah Pendsadlo, Itzy Karla Rendon, Noemit Reyes, Daniel Sanchez, Huy Tran, Ariana Vera, Arlene Vera, Hector Zuniga, Joana Zuniga, Luis Zuniga
Tualatin
Resurrection
Dave Bora, Jackie Purcell, Jeff Elston, Katelin Calderon, Kelsie Calderon, Raoul Calderon, Roger Mason, Ryan Ervin, Tracy Sudakow, Tricia Bogdan, Vickie Malone, Zachary Boisineau, Alexey Troekashin, Bryan Popma, Megan Malone, Michael Bracelin, Molly Malone, Paul Enold, Ryan Seely, Susan Calderon, William Brown
Verboort
Visitation
Tiffany Clark, Deborah Luna, Trask Henningsen

Ed Langlois and Clarice Keating
Staff writers

Laura Paxton was born in a town called Rome, in Georgia. And now, after decades of spiritual wandering, she’s found home in the Roman Catholic Church.

Paxton, a 43-year-old writer who now lives in Eugene, becomes Catholic Saturday during the Easter Vigil at St. Mary Church, in Eugene.

She says the moment she realized God’s “overwhelming grace and mercy” and decided to become a Catholic, she was a new human being.

“People say I glow,” she explains.

Paxton was raised Southern Baptist in Rome, Ga., the child of two college professors. She faced challenges early on — Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning autism, plus a disengaged and rejecting mother. The autism stunted her socially; much of the time, she was either lonely or bullied.  

She tried to be active in her childhood faith, but was left cold. When, with her keen mind, she raised serious religious questions, people changed the subject. At 14, she attended a Catholic Mass and felt a powerful attraction. The idea of the Eucharist made deep sense and she met regularly with a local nun who taught her to pray the rosary. She attended youth classes and became friends with Catholic children.

When she asked her parents if she could become Catholic, they decided the flirtation with the faith centered in Rome, Italy, had gone too far. When she was 15, they pulled her from Catholic parish life, telling her that she needed no saints, priests or nuns to stand between her and God. What she knew as lifelines, her parents had severed.

Soon after, Paxton began experiencing chaotic bipolar episodes. Nevertheless, she graduated from college at 20 and earned two master’s degrees — in psychology and guidance counseling — by the time she was 23. In the course of her studies, she accepted what she now sees as faulty notions about Catholicism, namely that it represses sexuality and promotes guilt.   

When she was in her mid-20s, she decided to become an Episcopalian. But she still felt lost. “I held few things sacred and delighted in decadence,” she says. “I was a tortured soul.”

After being manipulated and tricked in several relationships, Paxton attempted suicide. It almost worked. But she emerged from despair,  got married and moved to California, where at 26 she wrote a best-selling self-help book, Borderline and Beyond.

Living off royalties, she immersed herself in a New Age group for years. The life, she now says, offered only “temporary highs” and attempted to manufacture happiness void of moral requirement. Her guru, while accepting large amounts of her money, urged her to alienate her family, which did not support the cult-like venture.

When the exuberance ended, as it inevitably does in cults, she felt alone and confused. Her successes in life seemed meaningless. She moved to Oregon, wanting neither failure nor success, just sanity.

Her poem “Lost and Found” expresses her life up to this point: “I cannot count the infinite ways to get nowhere.”

Then, through a friend, she decided to return to an old home — Catholicism. She joined a program for those who want to explore the church. Through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, she discovered that the Catholicism was the one influence in her life that never steered her wrong. She has found truth, she explains, in the church’s moral teaching on free will, good and evil.

Now, Paxton wants to pick up where she left off at 15 and turn her life into perpetual adoration of God.”I hope to do nothing that would disrupt my relationship with Jesus,” she says.

Paxton is now planning to create educational documentaries about autism and is at work on a book about contemplative prayer.  

Terry Marks, an upstanding California policeman for 30 years, felt self-sufficient. As a sergeant in his department, he gave orders and they were followed.

“I thought I was right in everything,” says Marks, who at 61 now realizes that his life really depends on a higher power. He’ll be baptized Saturday at Shepherd of the Valley Church in Central Point.

Marks grew up in Southern California and was raised in the Christian Science Church. He found that denomination hard to fathom and as a young man sought another church. He joined one — he’d rather not name it — and raised five children in the tradition. When he was divorced, that church excommunicated him.    

Marks later met and married a Catholic woman who had not been fully practicing her faith. They didn’t join a faith community, and Marks felt his spirituality wane. He just built up what he calls a “comfortable life.”

In 2003, he retired from police work and he and his wife moved to southern Oregon. His wife was re-discovering her Catholicism. For years, Marks had been taught that the Catholic Church was abominable, with an early history mixed with politics and corruption.  Then came the priest sex abuse scandals. He never saw himself becoming part of the Catholic Church.

After a personal crisis hit, he “started looking at the bigger picture.” He prayed, for the first time truly seeking divine guidance instead of resorting to his own power and wits.

“The problem was, I had never surrendered to God’s will,” Marks says. “I had never really sought God’s help. I was taught that God helps those who help themselves.”

He started attending RCIA “just to understand the church and its teachings.” Then, last fall while on a walk, he felt a burst of consolation and knew he should join the original Christian church.

“I felt a warmth come over me,” he says. “A light shined on my soul.”

In addition to RCIA, he has embarked on a Bible study. All the learning has confirmed his decision and fostered his dependence on God.

Marks suggested that Shepherd of the Valley hold a study on Matthew Kelly’s book, Rediscovering Catholicism. The gatherings have drawn large groups in anticipation of a southern Oregon seminar set for April when Kelly himself will speak.

Marks is looking forward most to receiving the Eucharist, which will be a sign of God’s closeness and his own willingness to surrender. He has a phrase for how he feels just now — “spiritual acceleration.”

Joyce Eason, who leads RCIA at Shepherd of the Valley, says Marks and the 16 others to be baptized at the church feel an urgent longing.

“It seems like they all wanted it yesterday,” Eason says. “They want the Eucharist; they want to be wiped free of their sins with baptism.”

Eason urges her classes to continue discerning to the very end because the commitment is so serious.

“I think they are looking at these last weeks and days with open eyes and open hearts,” Eason says. “They are happy about coming into this family. What I see is joy.”

Deacon Tom Altenhofen, who leads the RCIA at St. Mary’s in Eugene, is witness to “excitement and anticipation,” among those to become Catholic.

“Over and over again as the year has gone on, they have a stronger desire to have the Eucharist,” Altenhofen says. “I hear that more than anything. People are hungry.”

Jerry Spann was raised Protestant, and when he fell in love with Mary, a cradle Catholic who is now his wife, they agreed that they would take turns going back and forth between the two churches. But as he began attending Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Spann began to fall in love once again.

“As I started to attend the Catholic Church, I really appreciated it,” he said. “I appreciated the ceremony and history, and it felt very right.”

Spann grew up in Tacoma and Mary hails from the Minnesota, but they found each other in Portland.

Mary has been Spann’s sponsor; they read scripture and gospel together every morning.

“It’s been very beneficial for our relationship to have this commonality of faith,” Spann said.

He said he has discovered a new level of reverence for the Eucharist.

“Being from a Protestant church, I’d taken Communion before, but I feel like I value it a lot more now that I see the history behind it and what an important ceremony it is,” Spann said. “It can be taken fairly casually in other faiths. [But in the Catholic faith], it’s not something to be taken lightly.”

When Margie Henrikson was a girl, her family lived in the country. Sunday School was offered occasionally at the grange hall, and when Henrikson was in high school, she rode along with school friends the 31 miles to a Catholic church a few times.

She was always curious to explore her faith, but life just kept rushing by. She got married and had three children. The family went sometimes to Lutheran church.

Then, in 2005, when Henrikson and her husband were living on 3 acres in Siletz, her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The hospice nurse inquired about their faith and what sort of traditions they observed.

“It started bothering me that I had no religion,” Henrikson said.

It was a year-and-a-half after her husband’s death, that Henrikson found her home parish, St. Joseph the Worker. A friend, Ron Sill (now her sponsor) asked if he could take her to church with him some Sunday.

“I always sat around on Sunday mornings and read the paper and drank my coffee,” she said, but finally she agreed to go. At St. Joseph she discovered a sense of belonging, so last year, she began the RCIA process.

“I wish I’d done this years before,” Henrikson said. She knows her heart will be full when she takes first Communion at the Easter Vigil Mass.

“It’s been a great journey so far, and this is only the beginning,” she said.








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