“Why aren’t you Catholic?” - A faith journey that defined a calling

By Ginny Revel
Everyone, whether they acknowledge it or not, has a faith story.

Victoria Grasmick’s began with her baptism into a Catholic family in Taos, NM. She fondly recalls praying the rosary as a little girl with her great grandmother, Daphne. Both the devotion and her great grandmom left a lasting impression on her heart and soul.

She grew up amid the turmoil of family alcoholism. By age 12 she vowed that “this life is not for me” and determined she would escape that world.

Throughout grades 2 to 8 at a Brethren school and later at a public high school, Victoria struggled with her studies, oblivious to the fact that she couldn’t read due to dyslexia. Yet, by the grace of God she was accepted at New Mexico Military Institute, where a professor helped her deal with these problems and graduate with an associates degree.

Victoria attended Colorado State University where she enlisted in the Army’s ROTC program. There she met her soon-to-be husband, Brian. They were married by a Brethren pastor and began their travels across the U.S. as a military career couple.

The birth of their daughter, Daphne, was a miracle for Victoria, affirming God’s presence in her life. She began to investigate, accept and live a faith that she felt, but didn’t understand. “I knew I had a calling, but to what and where, I didn’t have a clue,” she remarked.

Over the next few years the Grasmicks made several moves all while discerning a calling from God. She felt he was preparing her to change the world. She was anxious to explore this calling and planned to attend Methodist seminary. The tragic events of 9/11 intervened and Victoria was deployed to Iraq.

For the next 18 months, she led her company in 276 missions to transport food, clothing, equipment, ammunition and missiles throughout Iraq.

To Victoria, Iraq was “God’s country” and the people, towns and experiences there made her recognize God’s presence in the world, in the dignity of humanity. She acknowledged that, “God grew me in Iraq. He helped me to understand myself, gave me confidence in the skills he gave me, and let me recognize my mortality.”

In 2006, after a 16 year military career, Victoria left the Army. She attended an Assembly of God seminary in Missouri, where she received her Masters of Divinity degree in 2010.

Victoria felt she was being led to focus on chaplaincy. Invited by an Ursaline nun, Sister Nancy, she served a year’s residency at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Missouri where she completed five units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

During this time at St. John’s, while learning about the Sisters of Mercy and their ministry in healthcare, she did a lot of self-reflection about the life events that had led her there. She also worked at nearby Cox Hospital, and these experiences pointed out definitively the differences in faith-based vs. secular healthcare.

With her leadership style that relies on God’s guidance, Victoria began to identify with Catholicism on a deeper level. She found herself transformed by the Mercy Mission, Catholic moral teaching and the ERD’s (ethical religious directives) that guided Mercy’s treatment of the whole person and the community they came from, rather than just providing straight healthcare.

Victoria was hired as Manager of Pastoral Services for Mercy Healthcare in Joplin, Mo. The hospital was destroyed by a tornado in May 2011 and during new construction, she was in charge of outfitting the sacramental chapel. Through purchasing a tabernacle, altar, candlesticks, ambo and vestments for the celebration of the first Mass in the new quarters, she learned about Catholicism by hands-on experience. She would ask Fr. Friedel, a local priest, about the Mass and its meaning.

One day he asked her, “Why aren’t you Catholic?” This simple question got her thinking. “I realized I was more Catholic than I thought I was,” she said. Victoria began to seriously consider being Catholic. None of the other faiths she’d explored had given her the peace and trust in God that Catholicism bestowed.

The Grasmicks moved to Colorado in 2015 and Victoria continues her calling as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, while she works toward her professional chaplaincy license. She loves being a face of care and compassion as she walks through the darkness of loss and grief with families in the ER and ICU.

Victoria entered the RCIA program at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Grand Junction, where she was confirmed by Bishop Berg on April 24. She will receive her first communion and have her marriage convalidation celebrated on May 29. Chaplain Victoria, renewed by the sacraments, has returned to the Catholic faith of her birth.