By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
March 31, 2005
LE MARS - Loi Kraft was one of about 200 people in the Diocese of Sioux City
to join the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil this year.
He pointed out that one of the main reasons he decided to join the church was
to benefit his family - so they could all be of the same religion.
"I grew up Protestant and I would go to my home church in Kingsley and
my wife, Rita, would go to church in Le Mars," he said. "Now that we
have boys, it is important to me that they see us going to church
Married five years, the Krafts have two sons: Zach, 2 and Connor, three
Loi acknowledged that once he made the decision to take instructions to join
the church, he felt somewhat like he was sacrificing his own religion to become
Catholic. He had been raised in a religious, churchgoing family and religion has
always played an important role in his life.
"The one thing I will not compromise is my family. I will do whatever it
takes to make sure that my family grows up in a Godly home and that my boys are
raised as Godly people," he said.
Once starting the weekly R.C.I.A. classes, it didn't take long for him to
realize that he wasn't giving up his faith at all. Many of the key beliefs in
both of the religions were quite similar and in time he determined that his
faith was actually being enhanced through the teachings of the Catholic Church.
While he had learned about the sacraments and the importance of Communion in
relation to the Catholic Church, Loi mentioned its true significance didn't hit
him until the Easter vigil at St. Joseph Church in Le Mars.
"To see all of the people in church - you could see all of the tradition
and the faith was overwhelming," he said. "I understand the difference
now between communion at the Protestant church and how important the Eucharist
is in the Catholic Church."
As a Catholic and believing in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist
he said makes Communion now have much more meaning. In addition, through such
things as Communion and the other sacraments, Loi added that it gives him a
greater sense of ownership in his faith.
He found the classes to be quite helpful in answering questions he had about
the Catholic Church.
"I never really understood the traditions, why you are kneeling and why
you do certain things like make the Sign of the Cross. Now that I know, I can
see how important it is," said Loi.
Receiving Communion was one of the highlights for Loi at the Easter vigil.
While he admitted that he is not one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, he
mentioned there were a few times during the service when he got a little
teary-eyed because he was overcome with joy.
"You really get a sense of tradition when the lights are all out and the
candles are going and the choir is singing. You get a good sense of why you are
there and why God is working the way he is in your life," said Loi.
Another meaningful part of the experience was in the supportive presence of
the parish family.
"I really felt welcome and felt a sense of community," he said.
"There was a strong bond in the Catholic community that night."
Because there is such a strong bond in the parish community, Loi said he
could see himself becoming involved in various church activities.
"I grew up in a very Christian family to begin with and to change my
religion from Methodist to Catholic, it took a long time to do that but having
gone through the Easter vigil I could really feel Christ moving in me. The
decisions that were made were the right ones," stressed Loi, who said that
he feels at home in the Catholic Church. Along with receiving Communion, he was
also confirmed during the vigil.
While the R.C.I.A. classes come to an end for him, growing in his faith will
not stop. The Krafts read the Bible together and learn new things about their
faith through The Globe. They also discuss their faith and the role that faith
plays in society.
For Loi, he not only has faith but lives it. As an owner/operator of a
construction company, he said he didn't know how he could get by without faith
in God. Not only does faith help him get through tough times, but it also has
made him aware of the importance to set a Christian example for his employees
and others. Practicing what you preach is a must for Loi in all areas of his
life - at family and at work - not just at church.
"No matter what happens to you in your life, the sacrifices that he
(Christ) has made for us - our problems are nothing compared to what he has done
for us. That keeps me strong," said Loi. "You have days where you are
down but if you just keep the faith, God will not overburden you with more than
you can handle. Keep in mind there will always be a better day."