Local Family Finds a Spiritual Home at an Altoona Parish and Journeys through the Christian Initiation Process with Each Other


By Tony DeGol

When asked about the uniqueness of his entire family on the Christian Initiation journey simultaneously, Christopher Washburn had a simple response.

“We’re the Washburns, and we do everything together.”

Indeed, the charming family is on a path to receiving the best possible gift this Easter: the Catholic faith.

When they relocated to Central Pennsylvania from Georgia, Mom, Lauren, who grew up in another faith tradition, was looking for a spiritual home for the family.

“My husband grew up Catholic, but didn’t really attend Church that often,” Lauren mentioned. “When we moved here, I called around and found Saint Rose of Lima in Altoona, and we walked in and went to Mass, and after that first Mass, I said to my husband that that was the first time in a long time that I felt like I went to Church.”

So with Saint Rose of Lima Parish providing an ideal faith community for the Washburns, the entire family is now immersed in the Christian Initiation process with each other.

“My wife has always been a very strong believer, and she always encouraged me to work on my faith, as well,” Christopher said.

Christopher and Lauren, along with their son, Michael, and daughter, Aubrey, were among those present at the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on the first Sunday of Lent. All those in our diocese seeking initiation in the Catholic faith at the Easter vigil gathered either there or at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown for the ritual.

“Even with this step this evening that you will take and what will happen, God willing, in the joy of the celebration of the Easter Vigil, are just further steps, but it doesn’t end there,” informed Bishop Mark in his homily. “The joy and the hope that God gives to us through His Son, Jesus, continues in small ways every single day of our lives.”

Catechumens, like little Aubrey, are seeking Baptism, and signed their name in the Book of the Elect during the Rite of Election. Their presence is a public recognition of their “yes” to live their new life in God in the Catholic Church.

Candidates, like Christopher, Lauren, and Michael, are already baptized and seeking to be fully initiated members of the Catholic Church and to enter into full communion. By virtue of their baptism, they already have their names written in the Book of Life, and received special recognition and a blessing from the Bishop as part of the Call to Continuing Conversion.

Every year, the process of welcoming new Catholics at Easter is a time of great joy. While some in society are trending away from attending Mass and organized religion, in general, it is reassuring to see so many individuals flock to the Catholic Church to satisfy a yearning like only God can.

It is especially wonderful to see young faces filled with such passion for the faith.

Michael is a sixth grader who loves praying every night.

“It’s like you’re never alone,” he relayed. “It’s just nice to know there is someone always watching over you.”

Aubrey, a third grade student, is equally enthusiastic about her relationship with the Lord.

“I love being so close to God because He is our Holy Father, and He is the most important person in my life,” she commented with wide-eyed optimism.

Christopher, Lauren, Michael, and Aubrey Washburn: a great family on the journey of a lifetime. May God bless them along the way.

[Photo: The Washburn family: dad, Christopher; mom, Lauren; and children Michael and Aubrey.]