Kimberly Kozubovska of Menomonie had been searching for a home in Christ since she was in high school. She would invite herself to attend church services and go to youth groups with her friends. Walking past St. Joseph Church with an infant and a toddler, the call from Christ became even stronger.
“There’s a part in the Mass where they say, ‘Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.’ Every time I hear those words, I think, ‘I am blessed to be here in the pew.’”
“I would walk past the school, and I kept feeling a strange attraction. I felt like I should be there. I would go out of my way to walk close to the church,” says Kimberly. “One day I went into the office and I said I wanted to join the parish. I was the easiest convert ever. I just felt a strong pull.”
Registering in May 2014, Kimberly learned she would have to participate in the next Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program at St. Joseph Parish to become a full member of the Catholic Church. Classes didn’t start until September, so while waiting Kimberly spent time reading and researching Catholicism.
Her husband, Vladimir, baptized in the Byzantine Catholic Church, supported Kimberly’s desire to join the Roman Catholic Church, and to be baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2015.
“He was surprised, but he was supportive,” she says. “I’m married to a wonderful man. He realized that was something important to me and said ‘Okay.’ He said, ‘Your life has changed 180 degrees since this happened.’”
After Kimberly came into the Church, she and Vladimir had their marriage blessed, which was a happy and exciting moment for the couple. Neither had grown up with a strong religious background from their parents, but wanted a greater closeness with God for their family.
“I didn’t grow up in church. I knew my parents were nominal Christians – they both grew up in church,” says Kimberly. “To say that I had no foundation is an understatement. I was a pretty big kid before I knew what Christmas was about, and I don’t think I ever understood Easter.”
Kimberly continued to tag along to different religious-based activities with friends while she was in college, but once she reached graduate school, she didn’t have anyone to ask. “I feel like I was really searching for God. I was grasping at different things, and I got sidetracked. I didn’t have a church to hang onto,” she says. “For a lot of years, I lived all about me. When my first child was born, I started pondering what sort of life I wanted for my children.”
Participating in RCIA was a wonderful experience and eye-opening for Kimberly. Her group was very diverse and included Catholics who were baptized but not confirmed, a couple who found the Church together in college, couples who wanted to join their spouses in the Church, and people with Catholic friends.
“Once I got into the classes, I realized, wow, I’m so glad this is required,” says Kimberly. “There’s no commitment when someone starts RCIA. I think RCIA is a time where you can learn about the Faith and the Church. We had some wonderful discussions.”
Combined with all the reading and research Kimberly was doing on her own, the connection became very strong. “My mind had caught up with where my heart was,” she says.
Her greatest connection with the Catholic Faith was through the liturgical cycle of the year. “I saw the way the Church lives through the liturgical cycle and I said to myself, this was the fullness of the Faith,” says Kimberly. “I remember saying in RCIA, that living the liturgical cycle each year is genius. Every year you have an opportunity to deepen your faith and traditions. It is very deep and very powerful. I really saw a way of how to live your life throughout the year and that would keep a person on track. I didn’t see that elsewhere.”
Since her conversion, Kimberly and Vladimir have had two more children, Maria and Daniel, join their oldest two, Sophia and Mark. It’s been important to create a strong household of Faith for the whole family that goes beyond Mass.
“I don’t like to do something just in name. I want my children to have a Catholic education at school and to have a robust Catholic life at home,” Kimberly says. “I had to try to pray, read and educate myself. It’s an ongoing process. I try to make sure we have a strong tradition at home. We have all sorts of Catholic books and media. We do these things together. We have their feast day celebrations. We always try to have our Sunday feast each week. I think tradition is something I was definitely lacking growing up. My parents are wonderful and gave me a wonderful life, but this was missing for me.”
Kimberly hopes people like her with questions about the Church, or who feel God calling them, consider taking the next step. “I would just encourage people who are thinking about the Catholic Faith to give RCIA a try,” she says. “What was helpful to me were the folks in RCIA and in the Church who took an interest. I felt like I had a real love for the Church. Whatever they gave us, I wanted to dig deeper.”
Answering God’s call has given Kimberly peace and joy in the Catholic Faith. She treasures the gift and is happy to pass it on to her family.
“There’s a part in the Mass where they say, ‘Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb,” says Kimberly. “Every time I hear those words, I think, ‘I am blessed to be here in the pew.’”
Story by Mary Kay McPartlin
Photography by Michael Lieurance