By Barb Arland-Fye
COLFAX — Lisa Bussan will celebrate four of the Catholic Church’s seven sacraments during the Easter Vigil at Immaculate Conception Church: baptism, confirmation, Communion and marriage.
After attending Mass for years, she’ll finally be able to receive Communion with her husband, Robb, and their 10-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, and be married in the Church.
Six-year-old son Mark and other relatives from both sides of the family will be in attendance, and are thrilled to have Lisa become a full member of the Church.
“My daughter is on cloud nine. She’s ecstatic. She cannot wait for the Easter Vigil. She gets to be one of the servers,” Lisa said. “She told me, ‘I can’t wait. I’m so excited for you. We can take Communion together.’ I think my daughter is one of my biggest fans.”
Her husband and his family are Catholic, but Lisa had no religious affiliation and hadn’t been baptized. The couple thought they could not marry in the Catholic Church, so they didn’t have a church wedding. Even so, Robb asked Lisa if they could raise their children as Catholics. “I was perfectly fine with that,” Lisa said.
As their children grow and participate in the Church, she decided, “if I’m going to continue to be part of a Catholic family, I should become Catholic also.”
Job transfers and hesitation kept her from joining sooner. Last year, the family moved to Prairie City and began attending Immaculate Conception Church, about eight miles from their home. “It was a small (church) community and everyone was so welcoming; everyone took the time to get to know us,” Lisa said. “This is where I want to be. It felt like home.”
Lisa enrolled her children in religious education “and then she came to me and said she wanted to look into joining. She felt she needed a church,” said Deacon Joe Dvorak, parish life administrator at Immaculate Conception.
“Deacon Joe has been wonderful and positive and encouraging,” Lisa said. And so has her husband.
“I’m very happy and proud that she has decided to join the Catholic Church,” Robb said. “She put in a lot of hard work and effort to make it this far and I’m sure she will enjoy the fruits of her labor for many years to come.”
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process has helped Lisa grow in understanding of the Church and its teachings. She describes the parish’s RCIA director, Meta Hill, as phenomenal. “I’d ask questions and she would answer them. If she didn’t know the answers, she’d look them up.”
Meta, who converted to Catholicism 53 years ago, says it’s been a joy to work with Lisa. “It just means so much to me, to be able to share this with people who really want to be part of our faith.”
Lisa also appreciates the homilies at each week’s Mass because the priest or deacon situates the readings in a way that allows her to reflect on how they impact her life today. She sees herself striving to be more like a disciple of the Lord, examining her faults and considering others’ faults more charitably.
The journey to full membership “has helped guide me in healing myself and is helping me be a better person,” Lisa added.
Father Thom Hennen, vocations director for the Diocese of Davenport, will preside at the Easter Vigil Mass during which Lisa will join the Catholic Church and Deacon Joe will serve as the deacon. It has become tradition for the diocesan vocations director to preside at the Christmas and Easter Masses in the parish, which does not have a resident pastor.
Because Easter is a time of renewal and recommitment for Catholics, “having someone like Lisa baptized is such a tremendous witness,” Deacon Joe said. “It really brings home to the people that when they renew their baptismal vows this is a significant step. It’s important; it isn’t something that should be taken lightly.”
Lisa’s growing involvement in the parish also witnesses to the faith, he said. “She’s been active in the parish; she wants to be a part of our community.”