Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook


'Jesus Christ is my brother and my friend'

August 12, 2020

Editor’s note: The following is an installment of an ongoing series featuring how Catholics of the Diocese of Ogdensburg are living out their faith. To suggest an individual to be featured in this series, please call the North Country Catholic at 315-393-2920 or email dfargo@rcdony.org.

By Darcy Fargo

PLATTSBURGH – Since Rick LaDuke helped his wife, Susan, find the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church, the South Plattsburgh couple have been following God’s call to help others find that truth.

“Rick is a cradle Catholic,” said Susan. “I converted 10 years ago.”

Rick said his grandfather first helped him become firmly grounded in the faith.

“My grandfather was my Godparent at baptism and my confirmation sponsor,” Rick noted. “He helped me learn my faith, and I found it very fulfilling.”

When Susan expressed interest in going through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) to join the Church ten years ago, circumstances played out in such a way that Rick became her primary teacher.

“It all started when my daughter got engaged to a Catholic and had converted to the faith,” Susan explained.

“We had been going to St. Peter’s (in Plattsburgh) off and on – more on than off. I just loved the parish, the environment, the homilies – everything about it. I had been to Catholic churches before, but this was something different. I wanted to know more and get more involved. I talked at great lengths with Rick. He didn’t force the issue. He wanted me to do what I felt was right.”

The couple spoke to Father John R. Yonkovig, then pastor at St. Peter’s, and Susan began RCIA with Rick attending alongside. Not long after she began the program, Susan’s mother became ill, requiring Susan to provide care for her and preventing her from attending the RCIA classes.

“Rick took the classes, and he came home and taught me,” Susan recounted. “I learned at the hands of the (Director of Religious Education) and my husband. He came home every night and sat with me for an hour or two hours talking to me about the discussion at the class. If not for him, I wouldn’t have – I couldn’t have – finished the class.”

Now members of St. Alexander’s Parish in Morrisonville, both Rick and Susan teach in the program that helped Susan become a member of the Church.

“I have sponsored two other people to join the Catholic Church, and I work for the RCIA program,” Rick said.
“We both do,” Susan added. “Since I became Catholic, we felt this was something we needed to do.”

This year, the pair worked with two teenage girls to help them prepare to enter the Church.

“That was an amazing year for us,” Susan said. “With the pandemic, the ending was difficult, though. They didn’t get to be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil.”

“They received their Sacraments of Initiation a few weeks ago,” Rick noted.

Both Rick and Susan also work to share their faith with their family, especially their grandchildren.

“We have eight grandchildren,” Susan said. “Seven of the eight are baptized Catholics. That’s a big part of our lives – keeping our family as part of the faith. Their parents don’t go to church as much as we’d like, but we bring our grandchildren when we can. It’s a joy for us, watching them on their journeys and making their sacraments.”

Susan said worshipping and growing together in their faith has helped make the couple’s marriage stronger.

“Our marriage wasn’t bad before, but we’ve been married 38 years, and the last 10 since I’ve become Catholic have been a 100 percent improvement,” she said. “Having God in our lives and knowing what God wants from us has made our marriage better. And we’re part of a community, a faith community. We keep trying to encourage (their children) to practice their faith. We hope that living our lives of faith and showing them what God wants, maybe they’ll come back.”

As part of their efforts to live their faith, the LaDukes say grace together at every meal, attend Mass together each Sunday and usually try to say morning prayer and evening prayer, parts of the Liturgy of the Hours, together.

“We haven’t been able to do that as much through the pandemic,” Susan noted, explaining that she spent a significant amount of time helping her daughter, who was working a significant number of hours in the medical field. “I spent a lot of time helping my grandchildren, especially my 11-year-old grandson, with their schoolwork. There were times my grandson would turn to me and say, ‘I couldn’t have done this without you.’ It made my day. A lot of times, he was teaching me as much as I was teaching him. It was a fun time and a hard time, but it was family bonding time.”

The LaDukes also bolster their faith by participating in communities of faith. Rick is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and Susan is a member of the Catholic Daughters.

“That means a lot to me,” Rick said of his participation in the Knights. “It’s a group of men who put everyone else above themselves. You see how much money you can earn and raise so you can give it away where it’s needed.”

“It’s being part of a community, part of the Church and getting to know people on a different level,” Susan added.

The couple has also found community in their parish home.

“Our community has grown,” Susan said. “Father Scott (R. Seymour) has four churches. We seem to do ok when other parishes are brought in. There’s no pushing and shoving, and it seems like it all works out. Our communities have become a very large family, a very large community of faith.”

The LaDukes serve their community as Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and by teaching religious education and RCIA. Susan also teaches Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC). She also volunteers for the parish’s annual harvest dinner.

Both say their faith is critically important to their lives.

“Jesus Christ is my brother and my friend,” said Rick, who also works at Seton Catholic School. “He died on the cross to save my soul.”

“With faith, anything is possible,” added Susan. “We have to have that belief. We have to have it in our hearts. With Christ, all things are possible. I believe that.”

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.