Jim and Pam Heaton are some of the newest members of our parish family. They received the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation, and Holy Communion after going through our parish’s RCIA process this past year. Welcomed into our community at the Easter Vigil, the Heatons have appreciated the warm reception they have received from their fellow parishioners.
“The parish community has been so warm and welcoming, making us feel accepted and a part of the community in every way,” Pam says. “The reception that was held following the Easter Vigil made us feel so loved and was a great opportunity to meet some new friends and start feeling connected. We’ve since received multiple invitations to join various groups and truly could not feel more welcome.”
Jim and Pam celebrated 48 years of marriage this past June. They have four children and six grandchildren.
“Jim and I met in the high school marching band at Shawnee Mission North,” Pam says. “Jim was the senior drum major and I was an incoming sophomore. We started dating my sophomore year but broke it off later when I became a Christian. We then reconnected during my senior year and married the year following.”
Their path to Catholicism was a special journey, having heard calls in each of their own hearts over the years.
Jim’s experience of faith was mostly limited to attending church on Christmas and Easter. In 1967, his family moved to Overland Park, just two blocks down from Queen of the Holy Rosary. They had Catholic friends but never attended Catholic Church. Jim was confirmed at a Protestant church but didn’t take his faith seriously until years later.
Pam’s family occasionally attended Protestant churches and through her involvement in a local youth group, she committed at age 16 to the Lord. In 1976, the year after they were married, Jim finished up his tour of duty in the Navy and began college that fall.
“Over the next 10 years we finished our degrees, saw four wonderful children enter our lives — Alissa, Jamie, Kyle, and Kevin — and began to see our careers develop,” Jim says.
In the years that followed, Jim and Pam both felt God was calling them to go deeper in their faith. Jim felt God leading him to go into vocational ministry and, in 1994, he began studying theology at a local seminary.
“While I was still working full-time to support a growing family, I was offered a part-time summer youth intern position with a local, very small, Southern Baptist church,” Jim says. “That was 28 years ago. My role in that church grew to a full-time position, and we saw that church grow from 100 people to over 5,000. I wore about every hat one could in church life, from youth pastor to care ministry.”
When evangelical apologist Hank Hanegraaff converted to Orthodoxy a few years ago, this sparked something for Jim and Pam. They both read his book, Truth Matters, Life Matters More. This led them to the doors of Queen of the Holy Rosary, where they walked in and decided to meet with Fr. Bill and discuss RCIA.
“At first, we were unsure where this journey was taking us, so we just took in all of the information in the RCIA class and continued to raise our questions with Fr. Bill,” Pam says. “The class was great, welcoming, informative, and inspirational. It was truly an environment where the truth was presented in a loving and practical, yet unapologetic manner all supported by Scripture.”
“By the time we got to the Rite of Election service, Pam and I both knew that we were home,” Jim says.
As they drew closer to Easter, Jim and Pam both felt that they were exactly where God wanted them to be, entering into the Catholic faith. They arranged for their sponsors and asked permission to join at the Easter Vigil.
“The Easter Vigil was extraordinary in every way,” Pam says. “Every detail — from the outdoor fire to bringing the light into the darkness, to the Scriptures, the litany of the saints, the music — was spirit-filled and so inspirational. And at last, sharing full communion was the completion of this wonderful journey that filled our spirits.”
Jim and Pam appreciated the opportunity in RCIA to ask questions without judgment and learn more about Church tradition. They enjoyed meeting other catechumens and forming friendships with them. It was a special experience for the two of them to go through it all together.
“Being able to receive the sacraments together made them so much more meaningful and felt like the completion of our spiritual quest,” Pam says.