Ten youths baptized at Deephaven school Mass

| April 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

Posing with Father Leonard Andrie after being baptized during Mass are, front row, from left: Jackie Loftus, Vivian Loftus, Oliver Hickey (holding cross), Kelsey Loftus and Riggs Martin. Back row: Brooks Carver, Emmet Reifenberger, Father Andrie, Joey Bergquist, Brady Bergquist and Reese Martin. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Joining the Catholic Church seems to be contagious at St. Therese in Deephaven. The pastor of the parish, Father Leonard Andrie, baptized 10 children during a school Mass April 26. Six of them are students at St. Therese School.

And more will follow. Among them will be the mother and sister of two of the recently baptized St. Therese students, sixth-grader Reese Martin and her preschool brother, Riggs.

Father Leonard Andrie, pastor of St. Therese in Deephaven, baptizes Riggs Martin during a school Mass April 26. At left are his parents, Robby and Michelle. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Shortly after Mass, the children’s mother, Michelle Martin, announced to faith formation director Liz Lammers that she and her older daughter, Lacey, wanted to join the Church together.

Lacey, a ninth-grader at Minnetonka High School, had been thinking about it. By the time Mass ended, she had solidified her decision.

“After seeing my sister and my little brother [get baptized], I wanted to do it,” Lacey said.

Such a phenomenon is the new normal in the Church, said Lauren Caton, St. Therese’s principal.

“It used to just be understood that families who came into Catholic schools were already [Catholic],” she said. “But, we’re living in a different world and a different time now. And it’s just beautiful that children are evangelizing to their parents and the adults in their lives.”

In each of the six families with children baptized at the Mass, at least one of the parents is Catholic, Caton noted. In the case of 15-year-old Brooks Carver, a ninth-grader at Benilde-St. Margaret’s School in St. Louis Park, his parents chose not to baptize him as an infant in order to let him decide his religion later on.

“I felt like now is the right time, so I told them I wanted to be Catholic,”  Carver said.

He was excited that his grandfather Gene Leise, a parishioner of St. Joseph in Red Wing, was able to witness him join the Church.

“It was just a really great celebration,” Carver said. “I felt welcomed.”

‘Tears of joy’

The first child to request baptism was Joey Bergquist. Last May, the St. Therese fifth-grader talked to his parents, Casey and Joe, about his baptism. Casey, who was confirmed five years ago at the Easter Vigil at St. Therese, asked him where he wanted to be baptized. He said St. Therese.
His reason why floored her.

“He said, ‘Well, I want to be forgiven of my sins, and I want to be pure and one with God, and I then want to receive the body and blood of Jesus, Mom. I just want to live with that in my life and have Jesus be a part of me,’” she said.

Joey, now a sixth-grader, was joined in baptism by his brother, Brady, a fourth-grader. Oliver Hickey, Jackie Loftus , Kelsey Loftus, Vivian Loftus and Emmet Reifenberger were also baptized that day. Carver was the oldest; the youngest, Vivian, is almost 2. The six older children also received first communion and confirmation.

Casey Bergquist had a strong emotional reaction to watching her boys recieve the sacraments.

“It was tears of joy,” she said. “It’s the answer to prayer. We believe in the power of prayer. Our family, we pray about everything.”

Her joy tied in perfectly to the school’s theme for this school year: the joy of Jesus.

“We have stressed very hard this year that joy is so contagious, and joy is so attractive,” Father Andrie said.

He called the baptizing of 10 children “really, really beautiful. It’s one of the great joys of the priesthood.”

Caton expects the trend to continue. Of her 106 students in kindergarten to eighth grade, roughly 22 percent are not Catholic, so there are more children who could make the journey into the Church.

“This is just the beginning,” she said. “I’ve been around for a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t think anyone has seen anything like this. It just speaks volumes of how we as a society are craving that relationship with Christ. I think we’re craving that connection to something that’s bigger and greater than we are.”

Lammers added: “It was truly the Holy Spirit at work, and it made me step back and just [say], ‘Wow. Something big is going on here.’”

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