ALPHA program sparked her desire to enter church
St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Metairie
Terri Turpin longed for a faith home she could call her own.
Growing up as a Methodist in rural Mississippi, she said there were few Catholics.
“It was a religion nobody knew much about, only those involved,” she said.
More than 35 years ago, she moved to New Orleans, where she was surrounded by Catholicism. She sent her four children to Catholic schools, wanting them to have a faith community. All either attended or graduated from Catholic schools and would occasionally attend Mass outside of school.
Turpin said she would accompany them sometimes and, at other times, go to a Methodist church.
“Although I was a Christian, I didn’t have a church home or a set doctrine or faith,” Turpin said.
She and her children lived in St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Metairie and would attend Mass there or nearby. But attendance was still mainly on the major religious holidays or for family events. When St. Catherine began offering the ALPHA program recently, she decided to attend.
“I just had this yearning in me all these years to have a church home and a religion that I embraced and that embraced me,” she said. “I am divorced, so I didn’t feel like I fit anywhere.”
One night at ALPHA, Turpin said several things happened. She felt drawn to pick up a Catholic Bible to send to her son, although she felt he already had one. That same night, the program involved time in the church for prayer and reflection. After doing that – and continuing for about two weeks – she realized she had gotten the Catholic Bible for herself.
“I went to Father Tim (Hedrick, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena) at the ALPHA retreat weekend and told him I wanted to be Catholic, and here I am,” she said.
Her son will be her godparent.
“The things I thought I didn’t like about Catholicism all these years – the rituals and other things – I have grown to love,” Turpin said. “They are comforting to me.”
She also said Father Hedrick made “the faith come alive, and it was something I wanted to be a part of.”
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program gave her an understanding of what the sacraments are, the role of the divorced in the church and a true faith community.
“I love the classes,” Turpin said. “You learn it is more of a humanistic religion than others might think. I think people have a vision of Catholicism as outdated and stale, but if you have a dynamic priest, they make it real and bring it home.”
– Christine Bordelon