Ruth Beery, a cradle Catholic from Lincoln, Nebraska, took some time to share her story.  She and her husband, Steven, attend Benedictine College and currently live in Belgrade, Montana.

You were raised Catholic in Lincoln, Nebraska, and went to Benedictine College, so you were always immersed in the Catholic culture.  Can you describe the process of taking ownership of the faith and when it became your faith instead of just what you were raised?

I would say my first realization that I had to take it on myself was probably in High School at a TEC retreat.  I was on it and I also was one of the workers in the background for it.  That definitely opened up my eyes to the fact that you couldn’t just let your parents do it for you.  So I embraced my faith and then I really was able to put it into practice in college.  It was just easy to fall in love and make it my own in college.

What were some of the things in college that you were involved with that really helped you concrete the faith during that formative time?

One of the things was having such close encounters with the monks there. You could go to morning prayer at 6:20am, they had daily Mass offered, I think up to five times a day, and adoration was available.  They had so many different Bible study groups, and FOCUS was on campus. We had a chapel in our dorm which was awesome because if you had something you needed to pray about at 2:00 am, you just went downstairs!  There were just so many women and men who wanted to embrace the faith and make it their own; striving to make it as fruitful as possible. Every avenue you could think of was available and it just made it so accessible, to the point that if you didn’t go to daily Mass, you felt really guilty!

Now that you are married with children, how has taking ownership of the faith carried into the world outside of those Catholic cultures where you can go to Mass all the time?

It has been a struggle. Steven and I, through the help of Fr. Gilbaugh and other people, were able to start adoration here locally.  That was very helpful for us to cultivate it, but it is very difficult. We try to do a daily rosary; we try to do bedtime prayers with the kids, but it all has to be so much more intentional. You really have to talk to your husband and plan on a rosary at 7pm, whereas in college you can just go at 5:15 or 10:00, etc.  It is way more intentional and it is a lot easier to have an excuse to not do anything.

In college, you and your husband, Steven, both led Bible studies.  Can you describe that experience?

I felt like my Bible study wasn’t as fruitful because the girls I had were all more knowledgeable than I was, but Steven did really, really well.  He would take his guys out to the Abbey land – which was just land that the monks owned – and he would do all sorts of manly things with them and incorporate Christ in the activities.  It has definitely given us ideas about what to do; Steven and I still use some of the phrases like “try and be the best-version-of-yourself” and “everything that you do is a step towards God or away.” That is a big one that we’ve been able to implement in our marriage; there is no such thing as a neutral step because in that case you aren’t growing closer to God. That has been a big help to us.

How about for evangelistic outreach?

I that was a reason we chose to move to Montana.  Not our only reason, there were many deciding factors, but we could have gone back to Lincoln and it would have been a lot easier to sit and do nothing with our faith, because it is so Catholic there.  Everyone is Catholic! They go to Mass, they go to the Catholic schools, etc.

Here it has been more challenging, but we’ve had more opportunities to share the faith. For example, we’ve been able to talk to our neighbors about the faith. It wasn’t the only deciding factor in coming here, but when we were deciding, it came running through my mind, “Go out and make disciples of all nations.” The disciples have already reached Lincoln; they aren’t as prolific here and so that was one of the factors in choosing Montana.

Your primary vocation is raising your children in the faith. What are some of the things that you want to implement with your children? 

I really want them to have familiarity with people who have religious vocations.  When I was growing up, we had priests over at least once a week and I guess it sounds like bragging, but we were friends with a couple bishops and really, really good priests; I was always so comfortable around them.  My great-aunt was a nun, and I knew friends from high school who went straight into convents.  Religious vocations were good and they were cultivated; you wanted your kids to have them.

Here, we have three priests in this entire valley. So Fr. Gilbaugh gets to come over maybe four times a year; my children don’t have that familiarity with religious vocations that I had with especially not with nuns and monks.  It just isn’t as easy to be surrounded by that here.  When we were dating, I had told Steven that if this didn’t work out, I was going to become a Benedictine nun.  I don’t know if that is as welcome here; it is almost frowned upon. Not necessarily at our parish, but if you were to tell someone in Montana that you were going to consecrate yourself to a chaste life, they would respond by saying, “What the heck is wrong with you?”

That is one thing we are really trying to push for our children, that religious vocations are wonderful. I try to remember to pray for that as often as possible.  Trying to cultivate the fruit of religious vocations is the biggest push we are going for.  Steven wanted to be a monk; it was something we were both totally open to in college and in high school.  I would love if all of my children are blessed with a vocation like that.

Any evangelization experiences you’d like to share?

Since coming here, my time talking to the Jehovah’s Witnesses has been the most that I’ve grown in knowledge. We took classes in school, but this allowed me to actually apply my knowledge; actually going out and dialoguing with people is the best way you are going to learn and understand your faith.  If you can teach something, then you know it.  I learned my faith and how to apply it knowledgeably by talking with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. And, as a stay-at-home mom, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons do the favor of bringing people to you who are in need of evangelization!  You don’t even have to go out, since they come to you which is very convenient for me.

Thank you and God bless!