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Couples say marriage strengthened by RCIA

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Marriage and faith are both journeys through life, and for some couples the two come together in the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Stan and Karen Johnson and Brian and Linda Reddish are experiencing that journey of faith in their marriage as they attend weekly RCIA classes in preparation for the Easter Vigil. At that time, Linda Reddish will fully enter the Catholic Church through confirmation at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, and Stan Johnson, a Lutheran, will receive the sacraments of holy Communion, reconciliation and confirmation at Sacred Heart Church in Norfolk.

As they learn more about the Catholic faith, both couples said their marriages are strengthened.

"I don't think I had any concept really of just how much our faith is intertwined in our relationship with each other," Linda Reddish said. "I think in RCIA we've really learned a lot of stuff that makes us realize the importance of how we treat one another."

Married since 2005, Brian and Linda Reddish, both 23, practiced the faith differently, even though both were baptized Catholic. Brian Reddish's family practiced the faith and was involved in church while Linda Reddish stopped attending church after her parents divorced.

When the Grayslake, Ill., natives started dating in high school, Linda Reddish began attending Sunday Mass with Brian Reddish's family.

"I owe it to Brian for leading me back into the faith because I don't think I would've done it with my own family," Linda Reddish said.

For Stan and Karen Johnson, the RCIA process has brought more harmony to their marriage, they said, and has them "on the same page" spiritually.

Karen Johnson, 27, said not sharing the same faith as her husband has been difficult on their marriage.

"There were times we would argue on a Saturday night or Sunday morning and then I'd be ready to go to church and he'd just sit there and watch TV. There was no communication about coming, so I'd just leave and go," she said. "Now if that were to ever occur, there's no question about it. We'd all go to Mass."

Timing is everything

Stan Johnson, 29, said that after almost six years of marriage, he decided to become involved in RCIA last September because the timing seemed right.

"It had crossed my mind before, and Karen was a big pusher of it," he said. "But with our two-year-old, as he got older, he seemed a little confused.

"When we pray, Karen makes the sign of the cross and I don't, and he looks at me funny," he said. "I guess if we want to make good role models as parents, we need to be on the same page."

Linda Reddish said her husband never pushed her to become confirmed, and was grateful that she attended Sunday Mass with him after they moved to Bellevue, where Brian Reddish is a public health technician at Offutt Air Force Base's hospital. He also is a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

A teacher for the College of Saint Mary's Spellman Child Development Center in Omaha, Linda Reddish said the desire to fully enter the Catholic Church came when she was driving and remembered seeing something in the parish bulletin about RCIA. Having learned so much about the Catholic faith during marriage prep, she decided to sign up.

She said she doesn't regret that decision.

"I knew about our faith, but I didn't realize just the fullness of it and all the things we have in our faith ... our prayers, our sacraments, the things we do to care for others," she said. "RCIA has just taught me how I need to grow as a person."

Noticeable changes

Brian Reddish and Karen Johnson said they've noticed positive changes in their spouses as a result of RCIA.

Karen Johnson, who works for a media analysis company, said her husband has become a better leader in the faith. He initiates bedtime and mealtime prayers with their three children, and insists on attending Mass when they are out of town.

Stan Johnson said he's noticed an improvement in the way he treats homeowners he encounters in his work as a floor installer.

They both agreed they are nicer to each other and more respectful of each other's opinions.

Brian Reddish said his wife is more relaxed and less irritated.

She agreed.

"Before, I would get angry at little things throughout the day, but now I look back and go, 'Wow. These are just things that happen,'" Linda Reddish said. "There's always a purpose in life and I think that's the thing I've gotten most out of RCIA ... that God really has a purpose for all of us. So all those little things you experience throughout the day just challenge you in your faith."

The Reddishes said their prayer lives also have improved as a result of RCIA. Both spend time alone in prayer each day.

"I honestly never really had a strong prayer life before RCIA," Brian Reddish said. "You definitely could say the process for me has rekindled things I know I should have been doing but just wasn't."

Both couples said they've come to realize that the number one goal in their marriages is to get their spouses into heaven. They said they plan to do that by continuing to strengthen their faith as a couple.

"Since taking RCIA, Stan has increased his commitment to our marriage and he's helping me get to heaven," Karen Johnson said. "I'm going with him to class and learning and becoming more aware of my faith. Taking RCIA is the best move we've ever made."

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