Kelly’s Conversion, Part 1: This is the first story in a Lenten series that follows catechumen Kelly Seeman as she journeys through the last 40 days before entering the Church at Easter vigil. Part 1 shares the spiritual path that led her to the Church and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
Kelly Seeman had always been curious about religion and the presence of God in her life while growing up in the mountain town of Coal Creek Canyon. Her parents, Kay and Jack Herndon, raised her and her older sister with a spirituality she described as “new age spiritualism.”
“I think people sometimes associate it with paganism which wasn’t the case for us,” said Seeman, 33. “It was more of a ‘free spirituality’ kind of thing … focusing on positive meditation, taken more from Native American belief systems—there was a divine piece to it.”
Her parents instilled in her a strong sense of self, and of family, she said, and taught her to trust her instincts and intuition.
“They raised us with the values of the church,” she added. “But we never went to church.”
As Kelly got older, her curiosity about God and religion grew. Her parents were supportive of her quest to find answers in other faiths during her young adult and teen years, allowing her to try non-denominational groups, Protestant churches and an assembly identified as Born-again Christian—but “it never went well,” she said.
“I was genuinely interested in God but it was never the right fit.”
That was until January 2008 when she and now-husband Ryan went to Spirit of Christ Parish in Arvada, Ryan’s lifelong parish, to inquire about marriage preparation. At their first meeting, Kathy Galiffa, pastoral ministry coordinator and a longtime family friend of Ryan’s family, said to Kelly: “I understand you’re not Catholic?”
“No,” she replied.
“Are you baptized?” Galiffa asked.
“No,” she answered, bracing for a negative reaction.
But she was taken back by Galiffa’s response.
“God brings us to him in different ways,” she said matter-of-factly, and proceeded to fill out the paperwork.
“Hands down, that was the one thing I needed to hear,” Kelly said. “Seriously, it was huge … for the first time, I didn’t feel like an outsider.”
During her time investigating other faiths, she had felt rejection, pressure, disappointment and uneasiness. Now with those simple words, she felt acceptance.
“That sealed the deal,” said Kelly, who had been attending Mass with Ryan and his family. “I respected all the other churches; they just weren’t the right fit.”
And though it was the right fit, it wasn’t the right time—as the couple moved to Anchorage, Alaska, shortly after they were married in September 2008.
“I looked into RCIA when we moved,” she said. “But I’d just started back to school at Regis (University-online), and being a new wife and going back to school, I couldn’t really commit to it.”
Kelly, who attended community college, Metro State College (now University) and the Art Institute of Colorado, had dreamed of attending Regis University since hearing Nobel Peace Prize recipient Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak there in 1998. It was an experience that opened her eyes “to a larger spiritual picture.”
“I totally fell in love with Regis; it took me three schools and one degree to get there,” she added with a laugh. But in May she will reach that goal, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Living in Anchorage, she maintained a connection to the faith as the couple attended Mass together and she regularly “popped in” to church to pray on her own. In 2012, they moved back to the Denver metro area to put roots down.
“It was a good time (to begin RCIA), everything was falling into place,” she said, including landing a job as the Operations Coordinator for the archdiocese’s Office of Communications. “It’s important to me because, as a family, I want to support the same spiritual goals … to be on the same page as far as religion.”
She started RCIA at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception last September, where she attends class twice each week with 20 to 30 fellow catechumens (those who are not yet baptized) and candidates (those who were baptized in another faith) to prepare to enter the Church during Easter vigil at the cathedral 8 p.m. April 19.
“I’m learning the deeper meaning of what I’ve been searching for, and feeling, over the years,” she said of her growing relationship with Christ. “My horizons are brighter and I feel an excitement for what’s next. The world is a little more colorful looking through the lens of faith.”
Continue with Kelly on her faith journey in the April 9 issue of the Register in a story that will share more about her RCIA experience.
Kelly has been recording her thoughts and feelings in a journal during RCIA. Below is an excerpt:
“I remember there was a lot of popping into church to pray and we attended Mass as newlyweds. I began to feel God’s presence and it was a beautiful experience. One time in particular, I was on a break from work and I popped in to a local parish to pray. I was having a particularly hard time. … I remember praying for guidance … I felt a warmth on my head, like a warm touch, and was simply filled with peace. … I think that overwhelming sense of peace and love that I felt was God.”