Soul search leads Smyser family to Catholic faith

Deacon Dan Freeman
The Smyser family, Josh, Megan, Madison, Carter, Cooper and Tucker, gather after the Rite of Election Feb. 18 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. The family entered the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil March 30 at St. Mary Parish in Wilton.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

WILTON — Last year during some challenging times at his business, TNT Tuckpointing, Josh Smyser began soul searching. “I felt I was doing everything I could, but obstacles kept piling up. I started to pray to God and ask for help in my life. I was going to let go of my pride … I asked for guidance for me to be on the right track in my life.”

Baptized in the Presbyterian church, he said, “I lost my younger brother when I was 16 and he was 6 after he battled Batten’s Disease, which is a genetic disease. That really caused me to splinter my faith.”

During last year’s soul searching, “God didn’t ‘speak’ to me or anything at the time. But I began to open myself up to changing my heart.”


He began watching the TV drama series about Jesus titled “The Chosen” and started listening to the Hallow app and various homilies and reflections. He wasn’t sure how to bring his interest in Christ to his family — wife Megan, daughter Madison, 13, and triplet sons Carter, Cooper and Tucker, 10.

As he watched the series, the kids sometimes watched with him. The boys started listening to the “Saint Squad” and daily reflections as part of their nighttime routine. “I was honest and open that I was trying to learn and I don’t have a lot of the answers to their questions but we would learn along the way.”

After a few weeks, Josh said he talked candidly to his wife about their family joining the Catholic Church together. At first she said, “You mean you are going to be Catholic.” He emphasized he wanted the entire family to enter together. “Josh really led the family on this path,” Megan said. “I wanted to support him. I was not very educated in any Christian faith, so I knew I had a lot to learn.” Megan was baptized in the Lutheran church but didn’t attended services. None of their children had been baptized.

The family checked out a couple of Catholic parishes and decided St. Mary Parish in Wilton was a better fit for them. “To be honest, we were pretty lost, going to our first Mass. As an outsider it was tough following along with the structure of the Mass,” Josh said. They had watched a Mass online from another parish prior to attending Mass in person.

Deacon Dan Freeman, parish life coordinator of the Wilton parish and of St. Andrew Parish in Blue Grass, said Josh approached him about entering the Catholic Church. Deacon Freeman connected the family with the Blue Grass parish’s Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA) team. Father Bud Grant serves both parishes as the sacramental minister. The family celebrated the rites associated with OCIA at St. Mary Parish in Wilton.

“It was challenging for the kids at times, but they did a great job staying engaged in what is a program built around adults,” Josh said. “Walking through the structure of the Mass in our OCIA class was very beneficial and we just became more and more comfortable each time we went to Mass. We are really appreciative of the OCIA team for their kindness and support of our family’s faith journey,” he said. “Our OCIA presenters did a wonderful job educating us, answering our questions and welcoming us as we learned more about the Catholic faith,” Megan added.

“My heart is really what made me feel like the Catholic Church was right for us,” Josh said. His business had done work for St. Ambrose University and the Diocese of Davenport’s St. Vincent Center. He also advertises in The Catholic Messenger.

“Additionally, I was feeling a pull in my heart though my interactions with the people in my life who I knew are Catholic and being great examples of the faith.  A family I greatly admire is the Brisker family of Wilton. I have gotten to know Kevin, the father of the family, through the wrestling club he runs (Pack 732) where he coaches my boys. Two of his boys, Brody and Gabe, worked with our company this summer and all four of his boys are fantastic wrestlers and are great young men and examples of how I wanted my boys to turn out.”

“When I told Kevin that my boys would need to miss Tuesday practices until Easter since we were becoming Catholic he told me that his wife, Jenny, and his sons Brody and Gabe were very excited about that.” The Brisker family was a support to the Smyser family. Jess Williams was the sponsor for Josh and Megan. Jenny Brisker and Kevin Brisker are the godparents for the four Smyser children.

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *