Love is Patient, Love is Kind
10.18.18 • Lynette Townsend • Volunteer StoryTeller
Joe and Amy Mathias have been parishioners at Corpus Christi in Aliso Viejo for three years. It’s been quite the journey for both of them. Amy was baptized in the Episcopal Church and attended some “CCD” back then. When her parents divorced, her church going ceased. As time went on, she just didn’t have any interest in her faith or the church.
Joe’s mom continued to take Joe to church but because his dad didn’t go,
Joe began to question why he had to go.
Joe was raised Catholic, a cradle Catholic as they say. His mom was a devoted Catholic. Joe’s father never got over the Vatican II changes and after getting injured on the job as policeman, he became very angry at God and stopped going to church. Joe’s mom continued to take Joe to church but because his dad didn’t go, Joe began to question why he had to go. He didn’t understand, but he continued to go to church into his adulthood.
In 1992, Amy met Joe at her workplace. When they got married they were able to marry in the Catholic Church because Amy had been baptized. At that time, Amy still didn’t have any interest in church. Joe never pressured her. Ever. Joe went to Mass by himself and occasionally Amy would go with him. She usually went because of guilt, because she felt bad for Joe.
In her years away from the church, Amy had a few “personal callings,” three to be exact. The first message started when she was sixteen years old. Her sister performed in the play Jesus Christ Superstar at Saddleback College. Amy couldn’t quite figure it out but any time there was something that involved Jesus, she was drawn to it. She felt she had a strange connection, an obsession with Jesus.
There was a defining moment where Amy’s faith was strengthened. Joe and Amy have two children. It took eleven years for her to get pregnant. About six months before she got pregnant with their first boy she remembers looking up to the sky saying, “I’m done. I’m okay with our current situation. This is totally fine if this is your plan. I’m good with it.” And, that was a turning point in her faith.
Amy promised Joe they would raise their children Catholic when they were married. Amy’s last calling happened after they baptized their second child. After that baptism she felt she should learn about the Catholic faith because her children would have questions. At that point, she was going to do something about it but it was for her children.
Amy decided to check into the RCIA program.
After receiving some information, she sat in her van and
she could almost feel Jesus crying and hugging her.
While living in Menifee and going to a church in Murrieta, Amy decided to check into the RCIA program. After receiving some information, she sat in her van and she could almost feel Jesus crying and hugging her. She finds it hard to explain but she felt him saying, “Yes, it’s about time. I’m so proud of you. This is wonderful.” She sat in her car sobbing.
The missing piece for Amy was a personal connection with their present church. After a move to Aliso Viejo, Joe and Amy attended mass at Corpus Christi. Both of them were a little unsure of the environment; there were no pews and it wasn’t quite the traditional church that they had been used to. And then, Father Tim spoke. They both said, “Ok. This is kinda cool. I like him.” They kept going. Father Tim was the final push to get Amy to join the RCIA program. At that point, it became about her and not about anyone else.
The RCIA program at Corpus Christi was the best experience of Amy’s life. Her advice for anyone who is considering becoming Catholic: “I would tell them to learn about it and I would tell them that there’s no pressure. You don’t have to become Catholic, but go through the class and at least learn about it.” Regarding her feelings towards Corpus Christi, Amy says, “As long as Father Tim is here…if we moved an hour away, we would drive here.”
With a father that wasn’t a practicing Catholic and Amy’s dad having some issues with the church as well, when Joe and Amy got married in the Catholic church, it had a profound effect on both families. Joe’s dad softened a bit. It brought the families a little bit closer together.
…when Joe and Amy got married in the Catholic Church,
it had a profound effect on both families.
When they got married and for as long as he had known Amy, Joe accepted the fact that Amy didn’t go to church. He didn’t want to push her. He felt that he needed to lead by example. It wasn’t easy for him, sitting in Mass alone seeing other couples and families together. Attending mass in churches where he felt moved by good cantors, choirs and priests definitely helped. Joe and Amy were married for seventeen years before Amy went through the RCIA program.
When asked what Amy’s becoming Catholic means to Joe, his first response was that he’s happy for her. He said it’s nice to be formalized but Amy has always been the more spiritual of the two of them from the get go. Even before they were married, Amy would get overwhelmed and well up but wouldn’t know what it was. “She’s had a very personal relationship with Jesus for a long, long time and I know that.”
Joe, like Amy, has also had some callings. Joe is a Captain for the fire department but he originally wanted to be a policeman like his father. Growing up watching Adam 12, all he wanted to do was to work for the LAPD. He took the test for the LA County Sheriff and wasgoing through the academy, but it didn’t work out. While working as an Explorer for the LAPD, it was the kindness of one LA City Paramedic one day that made Joe realize he wasn’t happy where he was. He decided he wanted to be a firefighter even though it would entail a lot more work including going back to school. But Joe felt it was worth it. Amy said, “God speaks to us all the time. And He sent that paramedic to get you on the right track.”
Joe’s faith plays a big part in his job. His faith allows him not to worry and he places his faith in God to make the right decisions. He prays that He will help him do good work. When Joe got promoted to Captain, he took his Captain’s badge and had a priest bless it. Joe says, “Because now it’s not just about me coming home. Now I’m responsible for other people to make sure they get home safe.”
Corpus Christi’s location originally drew Joe and Amy in, and Father Tim sealed the deal. “Father Tim is like watching Mike Trout bat. Mike Trout is up to bat and chances are he’s going to hit a home run and Father Tim is like that…he knocks it out of the park every Sunday.” Both Joe and Amy like the genuine feeling of community and all the ministries at Corpus Christi.
Both Joe and Amy like the genuine feeling of
community and all the ministries at Corpus Christi.
Now that Amy is a member of our faith family, Joe feels it has brought them closer together as a couple and has brought them closer spiritually. Joe says it’s changed their parenting skills, too. Amy reminds Joe during the challenging times of parenthood to think about love and compassion. Their strong faith helps them stay on the path.
Amy and Joe were asked for one word that sums up what their faith means to them.
Joe: “You took my word! I was thinking, ‘Okay, I’m going to go with strength.’”
Other Stories of Faith