By Leslie Buddeke Smart
My family has been grounded in a strong religious faith for generations through the Methodist church. A quick Google search of the Hayes/Lyon family unveils the name of a veteran minister and Kentucky educator, Dr. A. P. Lyon.
A clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church, my great-great grandfather was at one time in charge of the Lander Memorial Church in the Highlands, the Clifton-Crescent Hill Church and was also presiding elder of the Louisville district, to name a few positions he held.
This deep-seated faith permeated our family. So one can imagine my family’s surprise when I announced my children were to be raised Catholic.
I recall one of my parents stating, “Your grandfather will turn over in his grave.”
But despite the initial shock, my parents were eventually fully supportive of my decision. They understood the benefits of raising my children, Charles and Emily, in a strong faith environment, and they certainly understood the benefits of raising their grandchildren in the Catholic school system.
But my Catholic faith journey wouldn’t evolve for nearly two more decades. After years of yearning for a church home, I found myself drawn time and time again to the archdiocese’s Mother Church — the Cathedral of the Assumption. Perhaps I was drawn because of its focus on feeding the hungry — a passion of mine for years — or perhaps because of the diversity of the membership. Maybe it was how welcome I felt.
Just last month, while serving as a hospitality minister, I was approached by a young woman who asked me about joining the church. She said, “Everyone is so welcoming here at the cathedral. It feels like home.” I have no doubt that our concierge team was reaching out to embrace this newest member of our family before week’s end.
It was that welcoming environment, the church’s focus on social concerns and my husband John that motivated me to begin the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes in 2009. Although I still feel sorely inadequate in understanding every aspect of Catholicism, what I have learned is inspirational. And my understanding continues to grow and develop.
I recently attended my first Archdiocese of Louisville Pastoral Council meeting. A mere five hours on Saturday — the time flew by! My new awareness of the global reach of the Catholic Church and the social impact of Catholic Charities in the world was, to say the least, awe-inspiring.
No one better describes that impact than the author Matthew Kelly. His book, Rediscover Catholicism states, “every single day the Catholic Church feeds, houses, and clothes more people, takes care of more sick people, and educates more people than any other institution on the face of the earth could ever hope to.”
As I write this article, Archbishop (Joseph E.) Kurtz announced in early November a new voucher system to support underserved children in our community who would like to attend Catholic school but can’t afford to do so. This Catholic Elementary School Plan was part of the 2014 Strategic Plan developed by members of the archdiocese over the last two years.
Charles and Emily continue to benefit from that education, and I’m so proud that we, as Catholics, are creating a path for our underserved children by providing the same opportunity. This is just one of many examples of the positive impact of the Catholic Church in our own community. Please join us and discover or rediscover Catholicism.
Leslie Buddeke Smart is a parishioner of the Cathedral of the Assumption.
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