By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published April 12, 2007
Each year thousands of people participate in the journey to become Catholic, moving with commitment, a sense of fulfillment and joy toward full membership in the Catholic community. In North Georgia this past Saturday, April 7, more than 1,500 entered the church during Easter Vigil liturgies, participants in sacramental rites of initiation through the waters of baptism, the oil of confirmation, and the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, in tandem with more than 150,000 others in the United States. These new Catholics form an essential part of the church, renewing communities across the country with their fervor and enthusiasm.
Married on Good Friday 2006, Paul and Mandy Merck began considering joining the church following Paul’s serious car accident shortly after their marriage. They began participating in classes at Prince of Peace Church, Flowery Branch, attending faithfully despite the rigors of recuperation for Paul, including a second accident in February, and the demands of parenting their three children. The Mercks represent all those who find the journey to Catholicism to be a glad sojourn of faith and prayer, in spite of struggles and challenges along the way.