‘Just give me that whisper’
Ed Bayliss was born into an Orthodox Jewish family and raised in an observant home that included “the synagogue every Saturday; Hebrew school up to my bar mitzvah; dietary laws, all the rituals,” he says. “I grew up where faith was strong.”
Now 58 and a Catholic convert, the New Richmond man has seen his faith strengthen since losing his job this spring as a health care executive.
“So many people were sad for me,” Mr. Bayliss said of his April layoff from Quest Diagnostics, where he’d worked for more than a decade. “I’m not sad at all. God has a plan. Now I have time to go to daily Mass. I have time to take two classes at the Athenaeum. People tell me I’ve changed, and I think it’s a good change.”
Corporate restructuring eliminated his position as Quest’s executive director for ChartMaxx, a software product supplied to hospitals. Fortunately for Mr. Bayliss’s economic situation, his wife Kim is still working as a pharmacist, and their five children are adults, ranging in age from 18-40.
“We’re blessed to make a living,” he said. “Life-changing events happen because God wants them to. He opened a door and said ‘you don’t have to work five days a week.’ We’re in a spot where He said ‘you need some time away to continue down this road.’”
That road includes courses in the Athenaeum of Ohio’s Lay Pastoral Ministry Program. Mr. Bayliss, a parishioner at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Anderson Township, says the classes have been “life-changing” as he considers the diaconate.
“It’s just been tremendous,” he said. “My family has embraced not just my going back to class but taking on a new responsibility in the Church.”
His coursework has provided a number of what he calls “aha moments.” For example, this semester he’s taking a Christology class titled “Jesus, The Christ of Faith,” taught by Immaculate Heart of Mary deacon Mike Cassani. It produced this “aha moment”: An understanding that “the entire Bible is about Jesus, all of it, the Old and New Testaments,” Mr. Bayliss said. “So here I am, 58, I was raised Jewish, and it all started to come together.”
“We’re taught that there are no throwaway words in the Bible.”
Despite his religious upbringing, “like a lot of people I turned 19 or 20 years old and got lost for a little bit,” he recalled.
He later met Kim, a cradle Catholic (pictured with him, right, at this year’s parish festival). They were married in a temple, then in a Church.
“We were a mixed-religion family,” he said. “We’d go to synagogue on Saturday, Mass on Sunday.”
His conversion experience came during a Sunday Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary, soon after youngest child had been born and Mr. Bayliss’s mother had died.
“I felt the Holy Spirit,” Mr. Bayliss said. “And my mom had just passed, and I think she was saying it’s OK” to convert.
He completed the RCIA program and was received into the church about 15 years ago, in a ceremony at the Athenaeum because Immaculate Heart of Mary Church was undergoing renovations. “So now I’m back at the Athenaeum,” he said, assisted by 50% tuition breaks underwritten by benefactors of One Faith, One Hope, One Love.
The Baylisses have been active members at IHM. Mr. Bayliss is a lector, an altar server, a Discipleship Committee member, and Mass coordinator. The couple also became involved in promoting the One Faith, One Hope, One Love campaign among their fellow parishioners. Mr. Bayliss jokes that he drives so often between his house and the church “I think my car knows the way.”
The path has stretched much farther than that, however.
This June he served as a chaperone for the “Nicaraguan Immersion Experience,” an annual relationship-building trip coordinated by the parish and Archbishop McNicholas High School. Mr. Bayliss’s youngest child Vanessa, a University of Cincinnati freshman, was among 17 students who traveled to the Central American nation, where much of the participants’ time was spent interacting with adults and children at the Cultural Center of Batahola Norte in Managua, the capital city.
(The group is pictured, at the cultural center, in the photo atop this article.)
About five years ago Father Thomas W. Kreidler, IHM pastor, held a meeting with some men who were considered prospects for the diaconate. Mr. Bayliss attended, but didn’t pursue the idea. “The time wasn’t right,” he now says.
More recently, however, he was talking about the matter with IHM deacon Russ Feldkamp. “He put it in my mind,” Mr. Bayliss said. “Whether the call is right or not, the Athenaeum offers fantastic opportunities.
“For me, the Athenaeum afforded by the One Faith, One Hope, One Love has been life-changing,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot more about faith in general. My daily prayer to God is ‘just give me that whisper I’m supposed to hear.’ It may be the diaconate, it may be something else.
“But I put my head on the pillow at night and just look back at what a tremendous day it’s been.”
Go To News Story Archives