Family comes together at weekly Bible study
Not only are three Omaha-area women and their father growing in faith through a Bible study, they also are deepening relationships with each other.
And they credit their late wife and mother, Patricia Marie Prem - and the Holy Spirit - for bringing them together to enjoy the music, testimony, small group discussions, lecture and artwork that make up the weekly Seeking Truth Catholic Bible study at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha.
The family was grieving Pat's 2009 death when Kathy Maly and Kristine Prem signed up for the study on the Gospel of John in 2010. Colleen Eusterwiemann followed halfway through that year and Donald Prem the next as the series, which typically runs from September to March, shifted to the Book of Genesis.
They always sit up front, and family members say they feel Pat's presence during the class, focused this year on the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Kristine, a member of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha, credits her late mother for the family's strong faith foundation, saying Pat "dedicated her life to her family and the instruction of the faith."
Donald, who grew up in the Lutheran Church, said Pat was planning to attend the classes before she became ill.
He admitted reluctance when his daughters first asked him to join them, but said he was hooked after just two sessions. A member of St. Gerald Parish in Ralston, Donald said he knows Pat would be pleased to see her family coming together in faith.
"I look at her picture and she says, 'I'm glad you're going, don't miss.'"
They don't miss, but family members still are amazed they find time to come together each week.
Colleen also was unsure about committing to the Bible study because of her busy family life. But she said it's been "a joy and blessing to take the class with my sisters and father."
"To learn and get spiritually fed together is a gift for our relationship," said Colleen, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Gretna.
The family also spends time together outside of class discussing what they learned - and sharing it with others.
Kathy, a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha, and Donald review the take-home questions and readings when he stops by her house for dinner before class. And Kathy calls her daughter, Marie, who is attending Boston College, to tell her about that week's topic.
Sharon Doran, who holds master's degrees in English and pastoral theology with an emphasis on Scripture, leads the class, and Donald and his daughters say Doran's dynamic and inspiring presentations create a deeper understanding of the faith and change the way they experience Mass.
Colleen said she has attended Protestant-based Bible study classes, but enjoys Seeking Truth's Catholic foundation. Kathy said she appreciates the emphasis on the sacraments and how the class has brought the word of God into her daily life.
"Sharon makes the Bible come alive," she said. "We live for Thursday nights."