Will officially join the church on March 31 in Maquoketa
By Jill Kruse
Witness Editorial Assistant
MAQUOKETA — Mary Carole Hudrlik and her oldest child, Mindy Williams, have always been close. The two even share the same birthday. But soon the mother and daughter will be able to say they share another special day in common — the day they became Catholic — after the two join the church together at this year’s Easter Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart Parish in Maquoketa.
“I love that we get to share this with each other,” said Williams, who was the first of the two to explore the Catholic faith.
Raised Methodist, but having never attended church regularly, Williams said she still always considered herself religious, in large part because of the influence of her mother.
“I feel that growing up, even though we might not have attended church every week, somehow, through her, I could tell that God was important,” Williams said.
The now 36-year-old special education teacher student taught at Sacred Heart School in Maquoketa when she was in college. She liked the school and decided it was where she wanted to someday send her own children.
“Once Baily (the oldest of Williams’ two children) started to attend Sacred Heart, and we attended church, I knew that I wanted to become part of it completely,” reflected Williams, whose husband is already Catholic. “I felt that I could relate the sermons to my actual life. I also feel that I am being spoken to directly. So I finally started classes with RCIA.”
Williams began RCIA — the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults — in October 2016. She liked the classes and felt like she was getting a lot from them. It wasn’t long, she said, and “I told Mom that she really needed to come and just see if she would enjoy it too.”
Hudrlik, 56, who had grown up attending Lutheran Sunday school and was later baptized in the Methodist faith, decided to accept her daughter’s invitation and find out what RCIA was all about.
“At that time I was at a point in my life where I was searching for answers in my life,” Hudrlik remembered. “Although I had always prayed and believed in God and the Christian faith, I had never really been educated about it.”
Despite an already busy schedule — Hudrlik is married, has four children, five grandchildren, and maintains three jobs — she found time to begin attending RCIA every Monday evening starting November 2016. She said she “absorbed everything” she learned in the program.
“Each class I attended I became more educated, which helped me to see that this was definitely the path I wanted to continue and the Christian faith I wanted to be a part of,” said Hudrlik.
She said she was drawn to the continuity of the Catholic Church, from the time it was instituted more than 2,000 years ago to the modern day, and by the church’s universal nature.
“No matter where you go in the world, the holy Mass, baptisms, marriages, ordinations, etc. are all administered the same way, ensuring uniformity in beliefs and teachings throughout the world,” Hudrlik said.
Both she and her daughter said they have felt supported, not only by each other as they have attended their weekly RCIA classes, but also by all those who have been part of the program at their parish with them.
“I feel like the other RCIA members and myself have become very close — almost like family,” said Hudrlik.
“Each one of us can talk about our own faith and what it means to us,” Williams added. “We all share how it has impacted our life.”
Hudrlik said that participating in the RCIA program these past months and attending Mass regularly have already had a positive impact on her and her faith.
“This journey has definitely made me a better person,” she said. “My life has changed for the better.”
As the date of their entry into the church draws near, Hudrlik and Williams said they are both especially excited about being able to soon receive the Eucharist.
“Being able to participate in Communion — I think right now, I am looking forward to that the most,” reflected Williams.
Both women agree that going through the RCIA program together has added a great amount of joy to the process.
“Being able to experience this journey of faith with her and attending Mass with her has made my own journey that much better,” Williams said.
“It is truly a blessing,” added her mother.
Mindy Williams (left) and her mother, Mary Carole Hudrlik, will be entering the Catholic Church together on Holy Saturday at the Easter Vigil in Maquoketa. (Contributed photo)