Convert supported in ‘real work’ of becoming Catholic

Kelly SeemanKelly’s Conversion, Part 2: This is the second story in a Lenten series following catechumen Kelly Seeman as she journeys through the last 40 days before entering the Church at Easter. This part shares her experience with Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Read Part 1 here. 

When Kelly Seeman, 33, started classes to become Catholic last fall she loved every minute of it. It was like a “honeymoon phase,” she said.

“You feel like you’re surrounded by God constantly,” Kelly said of the twice-weekly Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) gatherings at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. “(I thought) ‘This is amazing; I really feel I’m at home.’”

But shortly after Christmas, that magic waned and she began to question her commitment and efforts when the “real work” began.

“It’s a huge time commitment,” she said of the initiation program that runs September through April. “And it’s a spiritual commitment as well.”

Her mind was flooded with doubts: “What have I taken on? Am I giving it enough time? Am I praying enough? Am I faithful enough? Am I ready?” she wondered.

She compared it to how some brides feel in the course of planning a wedding: there are times when the demands of family and friends, however well-intentioned, can stress them out. Those demands, compounded with soaring emotions and a long to-do list, can distract from the most important thing: the impending marriage itself.

“I got discouraged,” she said, but she tried not to let it show. “There’s so much to learn … it was overwhelming.”

At the same time, she was also finishing up a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Regis University, where she will graduate in May.

But prayer and an ensuing deepening of her faith—guided by the hour-and-a-half Thursday and Sunday RCIA classes in the basement classroom with 21 fellow catechumens and candidates—helped her make sense of the “funk” and get through it.

“Del (Aman, RCIA coordinator) taught us about getting prepared for confession by doing an examination of conscience,” Kelly said. “I think in a way I was doing that in January and February. I was examining my life, and that can put you in a funk.”

Participating in the Rites of Election liturgy at the Cathedral Basilica March 9 with Archbishop Samuel Aquila was a meaningful turning point for her.

“At Rites of Election, it became real,” she said. “I felt nervous, excited … emotional.”

Then she was calmed and encouraged by the archbishop’s homily.

“He summarized everything I was going through the last few months,” she said, which allowed her to concentrate on the “bright sides” of the journey and stay the course.

“He said it was important to have confidence in God that you’re on the right path,” she relayed. “That having confidence can be a spiritual battle … (but you need to) remember the ways you were brought to God in the first place.”

One of the primary ways she was brought to God was through her husband Ryan, a cradle Catholic who grew up at Spirit of Christ Church in Arvada. Ryan attended most RCIA classes with her.

“Father Roger (Lascelle) encouraged Ryan to come to classes with me because it’s a journey, it’s an experience, and he needed to be alongside me,” she said. “I think he is thankful he did. The experience has brought him closer to God.”

She is grateful to Father Lascelle, parochial vicar, and Deacon Jason Wunsch, who lead the RCIA classes, for all they have taught her—particularly the deep meaning behind Catholic liturgy.

“Father Roger does a good job of reaching a broad range of people, he’s really a great guy,” she said. “He ministered in the mountains for a long time … so he understands that ‘free spirituality’ type of mentality.”

Kelly grew up with in the mountain town of Coal Creek Canyon, raised with a spirituality she described as “new age spiritualism,” focused on meditation and Native American beliefs.

“Father Roger touches on a high level spiritual overview for RCIA,” she said. “He helps us better understand the Holy Spirit.”

Deacon Wunsch’s teaching concentrated on the Bible and understanding Church teachings.

“(He’ll say) Break open your books! It’s going to be amazing!” Kelly said of his enthusiastic and fun nature.

She also recognized Aman for “holding their hands” and keeping everything running smoothly, including assigning Kelly a sponsor to journey with her: Betty Dee, a parishioner of the Cathedral Basilica since 1993 and retired from the Denver Public Library.

“She has been supportive and awesome,” Kelly said of her sponsor. “I’m back to feeling whole and at peace with the process.”

Kelly will receive the sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and first Communion during Easter Vigil at the Cathedral Basilica 8 p.m. April 19. Continue with Kelly on her journey in the April 23 issue of the Register.

Kelly’s Journal
Kelly has been recording her thoughts and feelings in a journal during RCIA. Below is an excerpt:

“So here I am in the second month of RCIA and I’m learning the dialogue and a deeper meaning of what I’ve been searching for and feeling over the years.”

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.