11.19.21 • Lynette Townsend • Volunteer Storyteller
A Place to Call Home
Larry Swanson’s faith journey has been long, and touches many different religions.
Growing up, with agnostic parents, Larry had to find his own way. His first recollection of church was at the age of nine. He attended a Baptist Church service with a close friend in their hometown of Torrance, California.
At the age of twelve, Larry joined a Mormon Boy Scout troop with another friend. This was a perfect fit for Larry. With good male role models, and the fact that they allowed older kids to mentor younger kids, he recalls this experience being a positive influence in his life.
By the time Larry turned fifteen, both he and a friend got involved in the Maranatha Movement, a Charismatic/Pentecostal-oriented Christian ministry formed in 1971 whose primary outreach was college and university campuses. During this time, Larry recalls accepting Christ as his Savior.
“God, I’m in your hands. You lead me through life.”
Feeling like he wanted to take control of his life, Larry aspired to be baptized. His mom asked him if he could take his younger sister with him. Both Larry and his sister were baptized in a Methodist Church in Redondo Beach. Larry remembers saying, “God, I’m in your hands. You lead me through life.” Even with that said, Larry struggled with Christian faith setbacks like immature selfish prayer and difficulties with “turning the other cheek” during aggressive behaviors exhibited while he played football. Little did Larry know, a wake-up call was right around the corner.
A motorcycle accident landed Larry, now eighteen, in the hospital. After a spleen removal and torn cartilage in his knee, he felt the need to rebuild himself physically and mentally. Larry realized he had talents, but he wasn’t applying himself. He was determined to discover what he was going to do in life and started pursuing science and engineering. And, at that time he started looking into Eastern religion.
Larry’s first long-term exposure to Catholicism took place when he turned twenty and dated a Catholic girl. She was extremely faithful and had deep-felt religious convictions in all aspects of her life. Occasionally, he would attend Mass and parish activities with her.
The Catholic faith surfaced again when Larry met Christine in 1980. They met on the beach in Redondo Beach and were both volleyball players. Chris, a cradle Catholic, wasn’t practicing at the time, but the Catholic Church would come into play a little later for both Larry and Chris.
Larry was confirmed and received the Holy Eucharist.
In 1985 at the Church of Christ in Palos Verdes, also known as the Neighborhood Church, Larry and Chris got married. Their first daughter was born in 1986. They moved to Denver in 1987. Shortly after that, their second daughter was born. After moving to Littleton, Colorado, Chris wanted to attend Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Larry was moved to join the RCIA program at St. Mary’s: “I felt like I had found my faith home in Catholicism.” On Easter Sunday in 1992, Larry was confirmed and received the Holy Eucharist. Their son was born shortly thereafter in 1992.
Life wasn’t exactly smooth sailing from here for Larry. A move to College Station, Texas and a change of jobs led to a brief depression and the feeling he was failing at everything. Larry said, “Prayer at the time was like a desert.” Once he realized he needed to make a job change, he felt his life turn around. The Swansons would make their last move in 1998 to Orange County, California.
…the “God All-Powerful Beach Dream.”
Once settled in Laguna Hills, the Swansons attended Masses at St. Killian in Mission Viejo and St. Timothy in Laguna Niguel. They went through a dry spell with their faith, attending Mass only occasionally. They weren’t involved in ministries, and things just weren’t connecting for them. Before Larry and Chris found a spiritual place to call home, Larry had a dream he refers to as the “God All-Powerful Beach Dream.”
In his dream, Larry is on the beach in Redondo Beach playing volleyball. It’s an extremely bright, sunny day and an unsavory local player is on the other side of the court. Suddenly, just like an eclipse, it starts getting dark. The darkness turns to black, and the player turns into a demon. The demon is illuminated, and Larry is being drawn in toward him. Larry says, “I can resist this, I can resist this.” His whole physical and mental being is resisting…but he can’t—he’s still being drawn in. Larry puts out his hands and calls, “God help me!”
POOF! Everything is gone.
This is a dream Larry will never forget. It’s still as vivid as it was back then, and the message stays with him.
He felt he was finally home.
In 2006, a friendly neighbor told Larry he should check out Corpus Christi Church in Aliso Viejo. Larry remembers the first time—it was raining, and he had a difficult time finding the church. He arrived, attended Mass, went to the First Saturday Men’s Fellowship with his friend, and that was it! He felt he was finally home.
Larry says the ministries, Father Tim, and the faith family are what make Corpus Christi so special. For him, it’s a comfortable place. He has served with the Hospitality ministry in the past, and he’s currently involved in the First Saturday Men’s Fellowship, the Eucharistic ministry, and the recently formed Life, Justice, and Peace ministry.
At Corpus Christi, Larry feels that his spiritual growth is continually nurtured by Mass with Father Tim. Looking back, he says, “This is my basic belief: God lays a faith path down for us and it’s our choice to stay on that path or veer away.”
Other Stories of Faith
Do you have a great story or do you know someone at Corpus Christi that has a wonderful story to tell and would be a perfect person for us to interview? Please email Alyssa at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 949.297.8517 and she will be happy to speak with you.