Woman received into Church day after her 92nd birthday

Birthdays are about celebrating another year of life, and Roxenia Slater of Peoria did that when she turned 92 on Oct. 9.

That new year of life brought her a new life of faith the next day, when she was received into the Catholic Church.

Already baptized, Mrs. Slater was confirmed and received the Eucharist for the first time at a Mass celebrated by Father Patrick Fixsen at St. Joseph’s Church in Pekin. Surrounding her were members of her extended family and her church family at St. Monica’s Parish in East Peoria, including Deacon Charles Robbins.

“I really wanted to join so badly. I’m so glad I got to,” Mrs. Slater told The Catholic Post. “I can go to church now and feel like I belong.”

SHE WANTED that feeling for a long time, but didn’t discuss it with her daughter, Eileen Bieneman of East Peoria, until just before Lent this year.

“She’s buying a crypt at Resurrection and she was talking to me about that,” said Mrs. Bieneman, an active member of St. Monica’s Parish. “She was thinking about being buried from Canton, and she said she was going to be buried from church.

“I said, ‘That’s not possible. You’re not Catholic.’ And she said, ‘Well, I’m going to be.’ That’s how I found out,” Mrs. Bieneman said as she shared a laugh with her mother.

For pastoral considerations, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, granted permission for Mrs. Slater to receive individual instruction rather than go through the RCIA process. Father Timothy Nolan, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Pekin and vicar of the Pekin vicariate, recommended that she work with Father Fixsen.

“SHE CERTAINLY was ready. She was really excited,” said Father Fixsen, parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s.

“Her daughter, Eileen, was very good in working with her and helping her to understand what we believe. She had already set a lot of things up,” he said.

Father Fixsen told The Post he spent enough time with Mrs. Slater to go through the sacraments and to make sure she knew what it meant to be Catholic.

“His second visit, he brought her a three-page typewritten examination of conscience,” Mrs. Bieneman recalled. “She said to me, ‘I didn’t know you could sin in so many ways!'”

The mother of seven, Mrs. Slater lived in Canton and also served as a nurse’s aide there. She loved the work, but arthritis eventually forced her to give it up and move to Peoria.

While some might complain, she said it’s just one more reason to rely on the Lord.

“I couldn’t live or walk without God. I couldn’t get out of bed without him,” Mrs. Slater said. “I pray before I get out of bed that God will keep my legs and feet moving.”

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