Entering into full Communion: Maisha Mena

Catholic faith community tugged at her heart

Maisha Mena
St. Raymond-St. Leo the Great Parish, New Orleans
Age: 30

Maisha Mena

I grew up as a Southern Baptist in Baton Rouge, and I attended Vacation Bible School in the summers. I spent every Sunday in church, and I considered myself a good Christian. Both of my parents are Protestants – my dad is from north Louisiana and my mom is from central Louisiana.

When I came to New Orleans for work, I had been looking for a church for a couple of years and hadn’t really found a church home. I was brought to St. Raymond-St. Leo the Great, and I experienced the Josephite expression of the Catholic faith, which really resonated with me. As I kept coming and experiencing more, I felt like it was enriching me. It was really just me wanting to know a little bit more about the Catholic faith tradition.

Our pastor, Father (Anthony) Bozeman, is really into people going to conferences. He almost pesters people into going to conferences! I went to this Catholic conference (with the National Catholic Youth and Young Adult Ministry Association) in Tampa, and, for some reason, everything clicked for me. There was this vast Catholic faith family.

Growing up Southern Baptist, I know the Bible and I was a good Christian, but it seemed to me my faith was a little more within myself. I was constantly going to Sunday school and trying to learn more about Scripture. But when I went to that conference, I not only had this understanding of the faith but also this vast faith family. I thought to myself, “I can actually put some of this to work. It’s not just about me being a good Christian, alone, by myself, but sharing with a faith family.

St. Raymond-St. Leo has a great sense of community. I began to learn more in RCIA about Catholicism and the fancy terms Catholics use – like Communion being “Eucharist” and preaching the Gospel being “kerygma.” There are some fancy words for things, but I was able to take the time to learn what these terms truly mean. That’s been a process for me.

Through the RCIA process, I could analyze myself. I would always tell myself, “Oh, I’m not judgmental,” but, you know what, maybe I did have an aspect of being judgmental. It helped me analyze my profession and my faith journey and clicked off some light bulbs for me.

I’m naturally an introvert, but going through the RCIA process helped be more part of a community. I’m also marrying a Catholic, and we want to be able to be united as a family unit.

I took my parents to church here and they really enjoyed it. I think they really felt comfortable and hearing about what a homily is. My mom had questions and my dad was really curious about it. He kept asking me what all these terms were. I had to tell him, “Wait a minute, I don’t know everything yet!”

– Peter Finney Jr.

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