Becoming Catholic Allows Family To Be ‘One With God’
By Elisabeth Smith
Third-grader Maddox Schnorr sat next to her little sister, first-grader Maisy, in their Catholic school uniforms. A grown-up asked them to share something new they have learned, and in unison, they proudly recited the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name … .”
For their parents, Mandy and Matt Schnorr, this was a dream come true. The Fayette County couple and their daughters dedicated more than half a year toward their calling to join the Catholic faith. And this past Easter, the couple were confirmed and received their first holy Communion during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Aloysius Parish in Dunbar, while Maddox prepared to receive the Eucharist for the first time this spring.
“It was something we thought about forever,” Matt said. “And this was the perfect time.”
Their journey started even before the couple married 11 years ago, as both Mandy and Matt had Christian roots: Matt’s mother was Catholic, but he was baptized in a non-denominational ceremony, while Mandy was raised in the Scottdale Church of Christ. The couple agreed that faith was the center of their marriage, so the family attended Mandy’s childhood church.
Their perspective shifted, however, as the couple prepared to send Maddox to kindergarten several years ago and they began exploring private school options. They toured Conn-Area Catholic School in Connellsville, and Mandy and Matt knew in their hearts they had found the right school for their children — and, finally, the right faith for their whole family.
“We just fell in love with it immediately,” Mandy said.
Matt added, “When we took the tour and talked to all of the teachers, principal and staff, it felt like a family. It felt like people who truly cared about the students and their families, and the fact that there would be a curriculum with religion was important to us.”
It was in the past year, though, that their lives changed forever. Not only did Mandy take on a role at Conn-Area Catholic School as a fifth-grade teacher and Spanish instructor, but she also sent a message to fellow Conn-Area Catholic School mom Mary Sampey, sharing a sacred wish.
“I was over the moon when Mandy messaged that they wanted to become Catholic,” said Sampey, who serves as Director of Evangelization for the Yough Catholic Community of Connellsville
“They clearly love Jesus, wanted to know more about the faith and were all-in from the beginning,” she said. “They couldn’t wait.”
The couple began the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes, and Maddox and Maisy were baptized. Maddox said she “felt I was really with God that day.”
RCIA classes span well over six months, Sampey said, because the Diocese of Greensburg wants to ensure that each participant’s faith journey is respected.
“They get to ask the questions and to inquire if this is right for them,” she said. “It has to be their choice, which is a really important part of the call to be a disciple.”
As RCIA continued for Mandy and Matt, the couple completed three sacred rites, including the Rite of Welcome – where their names are called in church among those who intend to become Catholic.
The couple and their classmates also met with Bishop Larry J. Kulick for the
Rite of Election.
“The Bishop declares them the Elect, which means those chosen by God to receive the Easter sacraments,” Sampey explained. “It’s a glorious day because it’s almost official and they are ready.”
Today, the couple is confirmed and thrilled with their family’s newfound faith and how it affects them both personally and professionally.
“It has been a great experience and allows us to have that complete sense
of family and unity together with God,” Matt said.
Mandy added that she also shares a deeper connection with her students at Conn-Area Catholic School through the Catholic faith.
“The best part is the relationship I can develop,” she said. “For example, we can all stop and say a prayer for someone, and the connection feels a lot deeper than I would have at a public school.”
While the Schnorr family was already steadfast in their desire to become Catholic, Sampey says anyone with interest is welcome to join RCIA classes — even “cradle Catholics” who desire more formal education on the faith into which they were born.
“If you have questions, I encourage you to just call and ask and learn more about the faith on its own terms,” Sampey said. “Once you learn the ‘why’ of what we do, it makes you fall in love with Catholicism and becomes more than something you do on Sundays. It becomes your life, and that is what our faith is supposed to be.”
For more information on how to become Catholic in the Diocese of Greensburg, Visit DioceseofGreensburg.org or call 724-837-0901.