Student grabs opportunity to join church

| April 13, 2011 | 1 Comment


Dylan Heiman was never offered the chance to be baptized. Now 18, he is seeking it on his own through the RCIA program at St. Eliz­abeth Ann Seton in Hast­ings.

Heiman, a senior at Hast­ings High School, began his journey to the Catholic Church at a National Evan­ge­lization Teams retreat at the parish in November of 2009. He then started coming to more events sponsored by the par­ish NET team, and even­tually decided to enr­oll in RCIA in the fall of 2010.

“This was the first faith in­volvement I’ve ever had in my life,” he said, of the retreat. “My friends were going and I went with them. I found God.”

And NET team members like parish team co-leader Dan Driver found a young man eager to grow in his faith and, possibly, help others do the same.

“He surprises me — his faith is so genuine,” said Driver, who has met with Heiman one-on-one many times to help him understand the Catholic faith. “He really grasps the intellectual foundation, as well as what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“The things he’ll say are kind of like the child Christ in the temple — impressing the older, wiser people with his wisdom.”

As Heiman goes through the final steps of his journey, in which he will be baptized, plus receive the sacraments of confirmation and first Eucharist, his journey through the Triduum liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil will be documented by The Catholic Spirit and published in the April 28 issue. He joins more than 600 people in the archdiocese who will be fully initiated into the church at the Easter Vigil.

Heiman is looking ahead to what his life as a Catholic will look like. It could include serving on NET Ministries.

“Right now, I’m applying for a NET team next year,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll do that next year and pursue faith further.”

Retired doctor, military leader led skeptical scientist to the faith

Ivan Posthumus, a 43-year-old ex Marine who spent eight years in the Corps and saw action in the Gulf War, hardly seemed a candidate for conversion to Catholicism. As a man of science, his major in college and his career, he was skeptical of all religion, not just Catholicism.  He works in the highly specialized field of electronic verification of medical prescriptions.

“I went from Baptist to hostile agnostic,” Ivan said. Yet this Easter, he will become a Catholic.

What brought him to a deep and abiding belief in Catholicism?  It was a retired general and heart surgeon, whom he met in a Russian restaurant near the Cathedral of St. Paul, and later became his sponsor and inspiration.

Ivan and his wife frequented the restaurant, Moscow on the Hill, because they were friendly with the owner’s wife who, like them, owned Rottweiler dogs. Frequently dining in that same restaurant was Ray Bonnabeau, a 79-year-old former three star major general and heart surgeon, and his wife. The restaurant owner’s wife felt that, as former military men, Ray and Ivan should get acquainted, so she introduced them.

In the two- and one-half years to follow, the couples discovered many common intellectual interests. Ray spoke often of his deep Catholic faith, answering the toughest questions from Ivan. Ray shared a number of books on theology and church history with Ivan. Subsequently, on a trip to Rome, Ivan visited the ancient cathedrals and — with a minor in art history — felt the paintings were almost speaking to him, reinforcing the conversations from his dinners with Ray.

Ivan investigated, then entered the RCIA program at the Cathedral of St. Paul. Ray also attended the sessions and then he and Ivan would discuss the teachings over dinner at the restaurant. During the RCIA process, Ivan experienced deep changes and even was able to contact his parents from whom he’d been estranged for many years.

“The foundational aspects of the (RCIA) process were pretty amazing,” he said.

Despite the inspiration he provided, Ivan’s sponsor won’t be there on Easter for his friend’s first Communion. Ray passed away on Feb. 28, not long after the discovery of a cancerous tumor in his leg that spread quickly to his lungs. He was, however, there for Ivan’s confirmation. The rector of the Cathedral received permission to confirm Ivan in Ray’s hospital room, where Ray could place his hand on Ivan’s shoulder during the sacrament.

“It is pretty remarkable to find someone who is so strong in his faith that he can lead someone as estranged as I was to the Catholic faith,” Ivan said. “My best friend was a 79-year-old former general and heart surgeon. You know that God had to have a hand in our meeting.”

Protestant evangelizer Matt Selby found new vision in Catholicism

Matt Selby, is on the staff of E3Partners Ministry, a Protestant ministry that works on evangelizing Muslims in the Middle East and in parts of Asia as well as in 40 countries around the world. He is 24 and has been engaged in this work since graduating from a Christian college in 2009.  He was born and raised in a small town in Iowa and came to Minnesota to attend Northwestern, a small Christian college in St. Paul.

In fact, Matt recently spent 10 days leading a medical and prayer team in Iraq. E3Parthers Ministry is allowing him to remain with the organization, despite his conversion to Catholicism.

Matt was introduced to the faith by his fiancée, Anna Stader, a Catholic. His long-term goal had been to become a Protestant pastor and a religious teacher. He had, by his own admission many reservations about Catholicism and, he said, “accepted a good many of the negative stereotypes” about the faith. While working on a mission to Israel, he encountered a stranger in Jerusalem who had left the Catholic faith and then returned to it years later and was now a Catholic evangelist. Lengthy conversations with this man intrigued Matt because he seemed so at peace.

But Matt said, it was “the Lord and Anna who kept leading me on my journey to conversion. Anna introduced him to the Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul. He was drawn to the Mass and its liturgies, and decided to inquire about the RCIA program at the Cathedral. With the guidance of the Cathedral’s RCIA director, Mark Croteau, and the Cathedral’s pastor, Father Joseph Johnson, and aided by his own theological and academic background, Matt began to study the religion deeply.

On Easter, at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Matt will be confirmed by Archbishop John Nienstedt and receive his first Communion. This will be a momentous year for him. He and Anna will be married this fall at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

He plans to attend the University of St. Thomas, this fall, where he will work toward a graduate degree in either theology or Catholic Studies.

“Given my background, this has not been an easy journey, “Matt said. “There has been some pain along the way. But I’ve become more and more convinced this is what the Lord wanted for me. It’s been a great journey.”

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Category: Holy Week/Easter