Our Catholic faith has a way of bringing people together. Whitney Lambert has certainly found that to be the case as she has made the journey of faith through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process at Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg.
Originally from nearby Batesville, Whitney was baptized in the Catholic Church while very young, and her older sister, Cassie Wratten, was baptized and received first Communion. Before Whitney could receive the sacrament, however, her father obtained a new job, and the family’s focus was elsewhere. “We did go to church over the years, but it was never very consistent,” Whitney admitted.
She rediscovered her faith while attending Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science in Cincinnati. “I started going to a local Christian church and I liked what it had to offer, but I realized I wanted to be part of the Catholic Church, to return to my roots, during what was a challenging time,” Whitney explained.
Working as a cardiac nurse during the height of COVID-19 led to Whitney’s desire to deepen her faith. “We lost a lot of patients and I found myself needing to believe in something bigger than myself and turning to God in order to get through,” she said.
The Idea of RCIA
Also contributing to Whitney’s faith journey is her high school sweetheart and now fiancé, Nick Prickel, who was born and raised Catholic. The couple became engaged in December 2021 and began attending marriage preparation classes with Fr. Carl Langenderfer, OFM, pastor of Holy Family, who mentioned the idea of RCIA. While the prospect was initially daunting for Whitney, encouragement from Carl and Beth Geis, director of religious education at Holy Family, along with Nick’s support, convinced her it was time to take that step.
“Beth has been wonderful, and Father Carl has been a great resource to help guide us,” said Whitney, who currently works at Margaret Mary Health in Batesville as a labor and delivery nurse. Nick, who has been her RCIA sponsor, “has been extremely supportive and our relationship has grown as I’ve grown closer to God. We attend Mass together, pray together and have discussions about our faith.”
Whitney has also grown closer to her family, especially her sister, during the RCIA process because Cassie has been on her own journey of faith. The married mother of two, Cassie lives with her family in a small town in Mississippi, where the local church doesn’t offer RCIA. Inspired by Whitney, she took classes online through Holy Family and will be confirmed at Easter Vigil.
“Cassie has enjoyed the RCIA process and has made sure to start taking her whole family to Catholic Church each Saturday night,” Beth noted. “The amount of people she and her sister have impacted by joining RCIA goes to show that someone’s faith can help other people grow in their own.”
Also coming into the Church at Holy Family during Easter Vigil is Meg Noble-Rauch. “Meg’s husband and children are Catholic,” Beth explained. “One of her children is receiving their first Communion this year and Meg realized it was important to have the whole family receive Communion. She came in a little unsure, but has felt the true presence of God during her journey. She has found the peace of realizing God is always there and is excited to continue her journey with the rest of her family.”
Joy, Love, and Acceptance
Whitney and Nick will be married at Holy Family on June 3 by Carl and the prayers and support of the faith community will be with them. “Holy Family is so welcoming and accepting,” Whitney said. “There’s so much joy here, and everyone has been so welcoming and accepting. The Franciscans are the same way. They have such open hearts and open minds and it’s clear how much they love the parish.”
“With regard to Whitney, I can say that I’ve been impressed with her curiosity, interest and enthusiasm for learning more about the Catholic Church,” Carl said. “I believe it was her enthusiasm that got her sister, Cassie, interested in learning more about the Church and her faith.”
“Whitney has had a wonderful experience with RCIA,” said Beth. “She has left RCIA feeling like she has a real relationship with God and understanding of the Catholic faith, and she wants to continue learning more, praying, reading the Bible and attending Mass.”
“I have thoroughly enjoyed having all of these women in RCIA this year,” she added. “It has been a wonderful first year for me doing RCIA as the girls have been super flexible and understanding with the process.”
Meanwhile, as Easter Vigil approached, Whitney said, “I’m really excited, especially about receiving Communion. I’m so grateful to have gone through RCIA as an adult. I have so much more appreciation for the Catholic faith now. Nick does, too. I feel like we’ve grown in our faith together and that this whole experience has really opened my heart to God and deepened my relationship with Him.”
For others who may be considering taking that next step on the journey of faith, Whitney has the following advice: “Take the leap of faith. I know it can seem intimidating, or even scary, and it will challenge you, but it is so worth it to grow in your relationship with God. In one of our classes, that relationship was described as a ‘love story,’ and it really has been that way for me.”