Woman journeys from Orthodoxy to Catholicism

Florence Koury stands inside St. Paul the Apostle Church in Davenport.

By Celine Klosterman

DAVENPORT — Florence Koury was baptized, confirmed and received her first Communion as a baby, but on April 11, she’ll profess belief in a church she’s chosen as an adult.

The former member of Antiochian Orthodoxy will voice her commitment to Catholicism during Easter Vigil Mass at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Davenport, as St. Paul community members complete the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Though she doesn’t need to be initiated into Catholicism as her fellow journeyers in faith will, she chose to complete RCIA classes to learn more about the church her husband of a year, Michael Koury, belongs to.

“Going through the process has been very educational,” said Florence. Though Orthodoxy and Catholicism share 10 centuries of identical history, they differ on several matters — such as purgatory, papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception.

Also, Florence didn’t attend church from about age 4 until college, so she had room to spiritually grow.


Growth continued after college, when her then-boyfriend Michael helped lead her toward Catholicism. As the couple journeyed toward marriage, they voiced a desire to be of the same faith. Since Michael had grown up actively Roman Catholic, and his religion was vital to him, Florence decided to come into full communion with the Catholic Church.

“It’s not easy to walk away, but this was the easiest change to make,” she said.

So she signed up for RCIA at St. Paul the Apostle, Michael’s parish. But as her class began preparing for the Rite of Election — in which the church officially recognizes those to receive sacraments of initiation (baptism, Communion and confirmation) — Florence revealed she’d already received those sacraments. 

Still, RCIA coordinator Judi Droll and Father Mike Spiekermeier, pastor of St. Paul’s, encouraged her to stick with RCIA classes so she’d better understand her faith. Florence did.

“She’s a bubble of enthusiasm,” said Droll. “She hasn’t wanted to miss one session. She’s enriched us all because of the things she’s said and shared with us. She’s a very faith-filled person and will be a vibrant part of the community.”

Florence values that community’s history. “I really appreciate the fact that (Catholicism) is such an old religion; it’s very traditional,” she said. “I know that whether I go into St. Paul’s or another church, the homily might be different, but everything else will be the same… It’s nice to have that stability.”

“I am very much looking forward to April 11,” she said. “It’s been a long journey, but it’s been a lot of fun.”

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