Coming Home

This article was posted on: April 1, 2023

One of the greatest gifts God has given to me is a clear sense of home. My parents, Gerald and Sharon Kurzynski, worked hard to provide a home for our family. Whether it was the evening meals around the dinner table, my dad working double shifts at the paper mill, my mother coaxing us to pull weeds in the garden or just sitting on the deck overlooking our modest family farm, there was never a question of where home was found.

As with all families, we’re far from perfect, and there were times when the storms of life battered the spiritual walls of our sense of home. Regardless of what trials we faced, my brothers and I always knew we could come home and find love, respite and peace. Every time I drive up the drumlins that form the gently rolling hills in the Town of Lanark, my heart rests with the thought of time with my parents, brothers, sister-in-law and nephew. Even before turning into the driveway, I’m home.

My parents also instilled in me my sense of the Church as home. St. Patrick Church in Lanark was our spiritual home before it was joined with three other parishes to become St. Maximilian Kolbe. My mother decorated the parish for the different liturgical seasons, and my father mowed the lawn. My grandmother organized religious education for our 130-family parish, and after I was confirmed, I helped my mother teach sixth-grade CCD. Our spirituality as a family was rooted in doing small things to help our parish. We weren’t the most pious of families, but we were raised with a clear ethic that Church was our second home—and at times, our first.

This sense of Church as home obviously contributed to me becoming a priest. At my first assignment at St. Mary in Durand, Holy Rosary in Lima and Sacred Heart in Mondovi, I was called to do something I had never done before: run an RCIA program. The teacher in me loved the idea of leading RCIA, but the fact I am a “cradle Catholic” caused a little worry in my heart. I had no personal experience of conversion into the Catholic Church from which to draw; all I had to offer was the conversion of living my daily life of Faith.

I made the mistake of thinking everyone who came to class was going through a dramatic conversion of heart. What I found, instead, were people from all walks of life who were looking for a sense of home. Whether it was engaged couples, individuals whose spiritual lives longed for authenticity or the curious hearts who embody the inquiry stage of RCIA, I found myself drawing not from dramatic conversion experiences to walk with these children of God, but simply trying to help them find the same sense of home that God has given to me.

The Easter Vigil is, by far, my favorite Mass of the year. I jokingly call it “the Super Bowl of Catholic liturgy.” It’s the liturgy that concludes the RCIA process with the celebration of the sacraments of initiation and calls those newly formed Catholics to take what they have received into the world to be shared. I love how, when the Easter Vigil ends, it feels so different from other feasts. Amid laughter and tears of joy, there is a sense of a family reunion, a coming home, a true welcoming of new brothers and sisters in the Lord.

After 18 years of priesthood, the feeling of the Easter Vigil has never changed. There are days I miss my first RCIA class, journeying together to find our sense of home. This Holy Week, I would encourage you to attend the Easter Vigil, especially if you know new members who are entering the Church. Allow the mystery of the holiest night of the Church’s year to wrap you in awe and wonder.

And if you are entering the Church this coming Easter Vigil, may I be the first to say to you what many are eager to share: welcome home! We are overjoyed that you have found a home with Christ and the Church He established. We look forward to walking with you as the newest members of our faith. And whether the waters of life are calm or stormy, keep Christ in the boat of your heart, ask Him to calm the raging seas life can bring and know that at any Catholic Church you enter that you are most definitely home.

Father James Kurzynski, Pastor of St. Olaf Parish in Eau Claire
Published in the March/April 2023 issue of Catholic Life Magazine

The Catholic Diocese of La Crosse
3710 East Ave. South
La Crosse, WI 54601

Subscriptions & Advertising 
Pam Willer

Story ideas, submission inquiries
Erik Archer

Individual Subscriptions

Find us on Facebook

Your Faith


Copyright © 2023 Diocese of La Crosse. All Rights Reserved.

To Top