By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator  

Her broad smile veiled behind a mask, her emotions silently crooning with joy, Lisa Lee approached the altar at Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs, steps away from receiving the Eucharist for the first time.  

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Lisa Lee, director of Disaster Operations for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, and her daughter, Madison Guylette, were confirmed and received first Communion on May 31 at Immaculate Conception Church in Baton Rouge. Pictured, left to right, are Suzi Parker, Lee’s confirmation sponsor; Lee; Immaculate Conception pastor Fr. Frank Uter; Guyllette; and Whitney Hébert, Guyllette’s confirmation. Sponsor.  Photo provided by Lisa Lee 

 

Holding out her hand, pastor Father Frank Uter delivered the host to Lee, and it was then her Catholic journey that began in her infancy with the waters of baptism had come full circle.  

Lee and her daughter, Madison Guyllette, were welcomed into the church May 31, a ceremony originally scheduled for Easter Sunday but delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, as were welcoming services for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adult candidates throughout the Diocese of Baton Rouge. Churches are now scheduling those ceremonies to welcome their own RCIA candidates.  

“Receiving the Eucharist for the first time was a very spiritually fulfilling and joyful experience,” Lee said. “Nothing could have taken away from the joy I felt in my heart.”  

Originally baptized a Catholic, Lee, who is the associate director of Disaster Operations for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, said attending church while growing up “was never a family thing.”  

In junior high school she joined a Baptist church so she could hang out with her friends and in 2013 joined the Episcopal Church.  

But the seeds of conversion were planted in the summer of 2019 when Guyllette attended The Franciscan Experience retreat sponsored by Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University at the Bishop Robert E. Tracy Center in Baton Rouge. The retreat included daily Mass and eucharistic adoration.  

With her daughter away for the week, Lee said it was then the Lord put on her mind to tell Guyllette that if she wanted to become Catholic “it was okay.”  It seems as if Lee was not the only heart being changed during that week. Guyllette recalls sitting on the floor of the St. Joseph Chapel at the Tracy Center meditating about the “cool things” she had learned during the retreat. Suddenly her eyes were awash with tears, which was unusual.  

“I had something telling me to become Catholic,” Guyllette, who had spent several years volunteering at CCDBR and was also involved with the Immaculate Conception youth group, said. “So I was like ‘okay, but that is going out on a limb, don’t you think’ ”  

“When I told (Lee) about what happened, I knew it was the right thing to do,” she added.  

“It was a huge burden lifted off my shoulder,” Lee admitted.  

But her daughter’s answer also came with the caveat that they could go through RCIA together.  

“I had no plans on becoming Catholic,” Lee said with a laugh. “But I thought why not both of us convert?” 

So in August, the mother and daughter stepped off on their journey.  

Although Lee, who has been at CCDBR for 14 years, was well-acquainted with Catholic social teaching her knowledge of church teachings was limited. Upon entering RCIA, she began to pepper co-workers with questions, and, according to Lee, “everybody was open and understanding.” 

“I really, really wanted to learn about church teaching,” Lee said. “They all answered me in a way that was loving and open.”  

Through RCIA, Lee said several misconceptions she had been taught about the church by members of other denominations were debunked. She cited as examples that Catholics do not worship Mary as some claim but venerate the Blessed Virgin; people of all denominations go to heaven; and Catholics do read the Bible, specifically at every Mass.  

“I learned a lot of church history and Christianity,” Lee said. “I did not know the church was the first church Jesus founded.”  

Lee said going through the RCIA program was spiritually enriching and has resulted in her reading the Bible more frequently.  

She has even created a prayer space at home.  

“I had been to Mass a lot through Catholic Charities and always felt like something was missing,” Lee said, adding that the Eucharist made her feel complete.  

Guyllette called her conversion experience “amazing.”  

“I’ve been really trying to dig deeper in my faith, have more Bible time and reading books about how to better my relationship with myself, others and God,” she said. “I’ve been wanting to encourage other people and share my journey with them as well.  

“I’ve also been trying to pray more and it’s really been amazing to see what God can do in your life if you just let him. I am so excited.”