Name: Rosalyn Pruitt
Parish: St. Augustine Church
City: North Little Rock
Family: Married to Tim for 31 years; and two sons, Tim, 28, and Jordan, 22
Why you want to know Rosalyn: For almost 25 years, Pruitt has been the hub that keeps wheels spinning as director of religious education at St. Augustine Church, an urban parish in North Little Rock. She’s also a driving force behind the Diocesan Council of Black Catholics, planning and implementing events to minister to black Catholics in the diocese.
Arkansas Catholic’s theme this year is “Arkansas Catholic delivers a year of faith.” What have you done or plan to do to strengthen your faith this year?
We’re planning to close out the Year of Faith with a special event called Shepherd’s Soup. On Nov. 3, we’re going to hold a soup dinner just for parishioners and their families. Then on Christ the King Sunday, we’re going to serve soup after Mass for the whole community. We’re planning to do that once a month through Lent next year in the community.
What made you want to convert to Catholicism?
I grew up with a very strong Protestant background. My grandparents would pick us kids up in the back of a pickup and take us to church. It was all day and it wore me out! I told my parents that I was converting because Tim was Catholic and his faith was so important to him, but really, the Protestant church was wearing me out! (laughs) They’re still praying I come back home.
Was it a difficult transition?
Oh Lord, yes. Where I came from, I was used to clapping and jumping and the first time I went to Mass it was so boring. That hour felt like all day. But seriously, it was a big adjustment, there’s a lot to learn and lot to understand. That’s the thing about being Catholic, it keeps you learning.
At the same time you were adapting to all of this, you’re still who you are. What did you bring to the faith?
I think I brought the energy. They were real slow over here. When Father (L. Warren) Harvey was here, he told me, ‘Rosalyn, you make me tired.” I told him, ‘Father, I make myself tired!’ (laughs)
It’s easy to see why — there’s a lot to do.
There’s a lot of work to do to attract more black Catholics. There’s about 1,500 of us in the state and of that, only 600-700 are really active. We really need to figure out how to do something that attracts young people and get them involved in their parish and give them that love of their parish. I don’t have the answer yet.
My husband and I came from a world where kids had more fear of their parents and fear of God. I mean, when you’re raised Baptist, you’re taught that if you miss church, you will literally die the next day. Let’s just tell it like it is, you’re basically scared to miss church. I run into Catholics at the store and they say they missed church on Sunday like they didn’t think it was a big deal.
You live right around the corner from another parish, yet you continue to come here. Why?
My family is rooted here. That’s one thing about me, when I start somewhere, I die there. You find your niche and you stay there. A small church is personal; if I was in a bigger church they wouldn’t know me except by my envelope.
My parents always taught us to give. This is really real to me. There are a lot of poor people in this neighborhood, and this parish is very good them and they love us for it. St. Augustine really brings me back home.
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