Catechesis

One Man’s Faith Journey Greg Grovesteen’s path to joining the Catholic Church

My calling into the Catholic Church was initially through marriage,” Greg Grovesteen said thoughtfully. “I was brought up in a Lutheran family, and my wife, Colleen, was raised a Catholic.” The newlywed couple started worshiping together at St. Mary Church in Tomah in 1995, a practice which they continue to this day.

Greg grew up in Tomah and attended elementary and secondary schools in the area. He accompanied his parents, Mary Ann and Gary, to worship services at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, which is less than a mile away from St. Mary Catholic Church. Greg’s father, Gary, was very influential in Greg’s spiritual development: “He taught Sunday school at Gloria Dei. He was always reading Scripture. He was just a good Godly man.”

After receiving a degree in physical education (K-12) from UW Whitewater, Greg returned home and started teaching; at first, as a substitute, but then he got a permanent job at LaGrange Elementary School, where eventually he started his coaching career. Greg said, “Sports were a pretty big part of my life and upbringing. I lettered in three sports at Tomah High School. I was head football coach for middle school and freshmen for quite a few years. Now, I am an assistant. I enjoy coaching very much.” He also confided that he likes history and would have enjoyed teaching that subject as well.

The Grovesteen family stand in front of St. Mary Church altar (l-r): Logan, Carson, Greg, Colleen and Kaylee

“In the fall/winter of 2013, we experienced the death of both of my wife’s parents four months apart (her mother in August, her father in December, two days after Christmas). This became a ‘Faith crisis’ for me starting about a month later in January. I had a lot of anxiety, doubts and questions about life and death: What’s the truth? Am I really a believer? Where am I headed eternally? Where do I belong?”

Greg and Colleen have three children, Kaylee, Logan and Carson. The Grovesteen family became, and are, an integral part of the life of Queen of the Apostles Parish. Most parishioners assumed that Greg was formed in the Catholic Faith. “In the fall of 2014,” Greg recalled, “I was invited to a lunch by Msgr. Richard Gilles after he realized I was not actually Catholic. We talked, and he asked if there were any particular reasons why I would not want to become Catholic? He then extended an invitation to consider attending Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes, which I [eventually] did, starting in the fall of 2015. Deacon Bob Reidl and Father Clayton Elmhorst were also very helpful in coaxing me along through this process.”


Kaylee’s Facebook post congratulating her dad on his Confirmation. [with permission from Kaylee Grovesteen]

“In the fall/winter of 2013, we experienced the death of both of my wife’s parents four months apart (her mother in August, her father in December, two days after Christmas). This became a ‘Faith crisis’ for me starting about a month later in January. I had a lot of anxiety, doubts and questions about life and death: What’s the truth? Am I really a believer? Where am I headed eternally? Where do I belong?”

In addition to Msgr. Gilles’ invitation to RCIA, a life-changing process began for Greg on his Faith journey. “In the fall/winter of 2015, we experienced the death of both of my wife’s parents four months apart (her mother in August, her father in December, two days after Christmas). This became a ‘Faith crisis’ for me starting about a month later in January. I had a lot of anxiety, doubts and questions about life and death: What’s the truth? Am I really a believer? Where am I headed eternally? Where do I belong? I started attending services at my old Lutheran church [Gloria Dei] of my youth searching for answers. [Pastor Scott Mann] was very helpful, and insisted the best course was to attend worship together as husband and wife, whether that be at one place or the other. My wife and children went through A LOT during this period, with my questioning. I really did not want to throw my children into confusion during this struggle, but I was confused often myself. My main confusion was centered around the question: I’ve always believed in Jesus from youth, why should I have to change faiths? What’s the difference? This all led to … RCIA in 2015.”

The RCIA environment offered Greg an opportunity to explore and reflect on the very questions that were troubling to him. RCIA is a time of reflection and introspection as one contemplates joining the Catholic Church. As an example of an experience during this time, Greg describes the following event: “When I took the step of faith to join RCIA, there also came a series of powerful consolations/confirmations from God that drives my Faith to this day. There have been several ‘celestial’ signs that I photographed, that the Lord blessed me with, that helped confirm my steps … not the least of which was a cross at sunset over Lake Tomah the evening after attending our very first RCIA class! There have also been numerous instances of doves flying over me/us when I am whispering prayers or questioning things, always God seeming to say to me: ‘I AM HERE.’” Perhaps even more interesting: “While taking in the beautiful sunset that evening, I did not see the cross until I viewed the image on the screen of my iPhone.”
So, what was the difference for Greg? “The Eucharist [the Transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Real Presence of Jesus] and the uniformity [of customs and rituals] that can be traced back 2000 years [to the time of Christ],” he said reflectively.

Although the journey was not easy for Greg, with the support and gentle encouragement of his wife, children and the community of Queen of the Apostles Parish, he was formally welcomed into the Catholic Church on March 26, 2016.

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