It was during freshman orientation for the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia when Sumayya and Mark Humienny first met. Sumayya, who had not been raised Catholic, was amazed to learn that Mark attended weekly Mass.
“At first, I started going to church with him occasionally,” she says. “Then I attended more frequently as time went by and that missing part of my life became fulfilled.”
When they were later engaged, they went through the Pre-Cana marriage preparation process, which Sumayya recalls being extremely valuable. They were married in the Catholic Church and later, she went through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) process to become Catholic and get baptized.
“I was so relieved and joyful to finally get baptized,” Sumayya says.
After they were married, the two each supported the other throughout graduate school, with Sumayya attending the University of Maryland and Mark attending NC State. While still new to Raleigh, Mark rotated through different churches as he sought out a parish.
“Later, my architectural thesis professor, Roger Clark, told me about a church he had designed in Raleigh that turned out to be Our Lady of Lourdes,” Mark says. “I learned that the American Institute of Architects had bestowed an award to the diocese for this architectural jewel nestled into the hillside. Once I started attending Mass there around 1992, I knew I had found my parish.”
Thus the Humiennys found the parish where they chose to raise their family.
“Our son, John Allen, and daughter, Catherine, each attended Our Lady of Lourdes School from kindergarten through eighth grade, and then Cardinal Gibbons High School,” Mark says.
Both Mark and Sumayya are involved in several different ministries in our parish community. Mark has served as a lector for 15 years, and he was a founding member of the OLL Building and Grounds Committee.
“This was my way of maintaining and enhancing this unique campus,” he says. “Over the years, Sumayya and I have taken advantage of many more opportunities to participate and share in the life of the parish.”
“I felt called to give back and support our parish community in various ways,” Sumayya adds.
Initially, Sumayya had joined the Hospitality Ministry after their son was born. She then assisted with the Children’s Liturgy and then the Building and Grounds Committee. She, too, serves with the Lector Ministry.
“I really enjoy learning more about the readings through the Workbook for Lectors, which delves into the context of the era and makes the readings come alive, helping me to better discern the meanings of the texts,” she says.
Stewardship is most certainly an important part of the Humienny family’s lives.
“Giving of my time, talent, and treasure is important to me and it is important to the parish that we all contribute in whatever way we can,” Sumayya says.
On a daily basis, the Humiennys strive to live out their faith in different ways. They seek to be faithful to God and each other, keeping their gaze upon God in everyday life and prioritizing their relationship to Him.
“Being Catholic in the South makes me more aware of my faith because it isn’t the same shared experience as it was up north,” Mark says. “I recognize that how I interact with others sets an example of my faith community, so I work on treating others with respect and care.”
In their home, the Humiennys say grace over their meals, and they turn to prayer in all things.
“Marriage, the sacrament that Sumayya and I shared so many years ago, is very sacred to us,” Mark says. “Having met at the tender age of 17, we’ve essentially grown up together and have always committed to mutual support and unconditional love for each other. Early on, we didn’t know that Catholicism was going to play any role in our life together, but it apparently was part of God’s plan.”
Mark and Sumayya say Our Lady of Lourdes is like family to them. They feel inspired by the faith of our community members and the richness of the Catholic faith.