By KATIE BORKOWSKI
SPENCER – With the prompting of a book of the same name and a parishioner’s husband not being Catholic came the idea for a class with the title How to Survive Being Married to a Catholic.
Father Bill Schreiber, pastor at Sacred Heart in Spencer, led three informal classes intended for any and all Protestant or Catholic adults, couples or singles. The class was held to help answer questions and misconceptions about the Catholic faith.
“My husband is Methodist and we continue to have discussions about whether or not he would become Catholic,” said Sheriffa Jones, director of stewardship and development at Sacred Heart. “There are parishioners here who have said they would be his sponsor. I don’t think he is ready to join. I thought it would be interesting to have more in-depth conversations about Catholicism and really what we believe – Eucharist, the sacraments and symbolisms.”
Jones didn’t feel like she could have some of these conversations with her husband because she isn’t “the most informed,” so she brought the idea to Father Schreiber last spring.
“We tossed around different names and we were trying to figure out the timing to have the class,” said Jones. “We wanted to make sure people understood it wasn’t RCIA.”
When Jones and Father Schreiber were in Sioux City, they stopped at The FitzGibbon Company and came across a book, How to Survive Being Married to a Catholic, which became the inspiration for the classes.
“He (Father Schreiber) has some other materials he developed for RCIA that we are also using as resources for the class,” said Jones. “His idea was to have it be driven by the people attending.”
The first class focused having the participants present the questions they were pondering about the Catholic faith, feedback and thoughts.
The topic of the second class was the parts of the Mass. Father Schreiber went segment by segment through the Mass. The questions included: “Why do we ring the bells?” “Where does the bread come from?” “Where does the wine come from?” “Why can’t we receive the Eucharist?”
During the last session, the attendees walked into the church and spent time in the confessional talking about reconciliation and what the confessional looks like.
“We also talked about the difference between the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed and compared the text of both as well as the meaning behind them,” said Jones. “Father also had a handout – ‘A Tour of the House of God’ – which included terms and their meanings, i.e., altar stone, Tabernacle, etc.”
They also talked about the colors and the church year/seasons and how this is reflected in what the priest wears. They spent some time talking about the church calendar and how Easter is determined as well.
Attendees could choose to come to one or all the classes. The attendance was consistent with the same three couples present at each class.
“The response was positive,” said Jones. “It has been interesting to have the conversations and a more candid opportunity to ask questions. It was interesting to see the couples develop questions off another’s curiosities.”
Though her husband didn’t end up attending, Jones found the classes to be interesting even though she has been Catholic her whole life.
“We all learned so much and had a great time,” said Jones. “We are already discussing when we’ll have another session. I hope it grows.”