February 5, 2021

The fullness of knowing and loving someone

Young mother experiences joy and love in her journey to a deeper relationship with God

Rebecca Kovert holds her nearly 2-year-old daughter Avila. (Photos by Sean Gallagher)

Rebecca Kovert holds her nearly 2-year-old daughter Avila. (Photos by Sean Gallagher)

(Editor’s note: In this series, The Criterion is featuring young adults who have found a home in the Church and strive to live their faith in their everyday life.)
 

By John Shaughnessy

Rebecca Kovert flashes a radiant smile when she talks about her nearly 2-year-old daughter Avila.

And her smile continues to beam when she discusses her relationship with Jesus.

“Once I was introduced to Christ and came to know him, what else in life is there except that? And everything flows from that, and through that, and in that, and for that.”

There’s also an undeniable joy in her voice as she talks about her efforts to help other young adults deepen their faith for the past four years as the event and volunteer coordinator for the archdiocese’s young adult and college campus ministry.

Even turning 30 on her most recent birthday didn’t dim her exuberance—“I’m pretty pumped about it,” Kovert says with another smile.

So it’s hard to imagine her time in college when she was so disenchanted with the Catholic faith that she crossed her arms, put her head down “and was all grumpy” during a Bible study that focused on the Blessed Mother instead of Jesus.

To know the depth of her disenchantment with the Catholic faith during her first two years at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., consider the approach she took toward the young, Catholic campus missionary who said hello to Kovert every time she saw her.

“We laugh about it now, but there was a point where I was actually trying to convert her away from Catholicism,” Kovert says.

“I definitely had a struggle with my Catholicism in college. I think I really turned away and turned toward the non-denominational aspect of Christianity. I just wanted Jesus and the Bible.”

A short time later, she learned what Jesus wanted for her—a turning point that came in an unexpected way.

‘Once you fall into love . . .’

Although Kovert had turned away from her Catholic faith, a friend recruited her to serve as a volunteer for a youth group headed to the 2009 National Catholic Youth Conference in Kansas City, Mo. Surprisingly, she said yes.

“On the bus ride there, I was reading the Bible and thought, I’m so much better than Catholics because they don’t read Scripture. I was so prideful,” she recalls. “In that moment of pride, God said, ‘Do you trust me? Do you allow Catholicism to be on the table of potential churches and potential truths?’ In that moment, I opened the door, and the Lord used that to come in.”

So did the young college missionary whom Kovert tried to turn away from the Catholic faith.

“Her persistence and her friendliness were there when I started having more questions about what the Church teaches,” Kovert says. “She introduced me to the person of Jesus Christ. And there’s a huge difference between knowing about and knowing someone truly, and that just changed everything.

“Once I understood what the Church taught and understood that relationship with Christ, that’s when I really dived in headfirst. Once you fall into love, you want to just launch into the fullness of knowing and loving that person. So that’s what I feel I did with my faith.”

That dive led her into depths of her faith she never once imagined.

‘It changed my life’

After graduating from Ball State in 2012, Kovert became a campus missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), an organization “whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the Gospel with college students.” She served two years at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and a year at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

“I know that God just wanted me to do it,” she says. “The same zeal I have for young people now was present then. I was convicted that I was handed on this truth, and that it changed my life.”

Another defining life change came in 2015 when she married her husband Kyle. Two years later, she joined the staff of the archdiocese’s young adult and college campus ministry.

“I choose to work with young adults because of my own conversion as a young adult,” she says. “And also because so much happens in young adulthood. There are so many transitions. You’re going away to school, you’re trying to find a job, you’re getting married, you’re moving, you’re having children—all within this time frame. So much is happening.”

Her smile and her joy keep growing as she talks.

“Young adults are just spending so much time trying to figure out who they are, where they’re going, their path in life, and what they’re supposed to do. There are so many choices. Young adult is fertile soil. You’re old enough to make your own decisions, but still young enough to have so many decisions to be made. I love it. And I think the faith can keep us grounded, offering some practical foundations for life.”

‘There are certain things we long for’

Kovert has reached another transition point in her own life.

She will soon be stepping aside from her role with the archdiocese to become a full-time mom to her daughter. At the same time, she hopes to volunteer for the young adult and college campus ministry, with the thought of helping to expand its outreach toward young married couples, including those with families.

In her own marriage and family, her faith is her foundation; her relationship with Christ her inspiration.

“It’s my everything, and I continually seek to put Christ more and more into the center of my life and just make that my lifestyle,” she says.

“I’ve been reading different parenting books. They talk about love and self-donation. That language comes to mind when I think about my faith. The Lord has blessed me and given me everything. Out of love for him, I want to give in return. Also, out of love for neighbor.”

Her exuberance is full-throttle now.

“There are certain things we long for, we desire, we want. There are so many paths we can choose. But there is an authenticity that fulfills us fully, and it only comes through Jesus Christ, only comes through the Church, who knows our heart and what will make us truly happy.

“From my experience, I was feeling kind of lost without God. Now, knowing that God could fulfill me most perfectly and show me what is true, good and beautiful, I want others to know. I want that for others.” †

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