Discover the Difference: Students look forward to their baptism

by Diocese of Des Moines | March 13, 2023

Symbols of the sacrament of baptism

Two sixth graders will be baptized and enter the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.

Both boys are new to St. Joseph School in Des Moines, where they experienced religion class for the first time. 

Amir Winfrey said his decision came after going to religion classes. Some of the first things he learned were about the sacraments and the Ten Commandments.

“I was interested and wanted to learn more,” he said.

He went home and told his parents what he was learning. 

“He wants to know more about God and that’s okay with us,” said his father, Albert Winfrey. “I believe everybody has their own path to God.”

His school administrator, Jodi Halligan, remembers the day he approached her about it.

“He walked up to me on a Monday and said, ‘Mrs. Halligan, how do I become Catholic?’”


“Because I want to learn more about God,” he said.

Amir’s favorite parts of the Mass are when he sings in the choir or does a reading. He likes to be involved in the Mass and eagerly awaits the day he can be an altar server.

Zachary Phan wants to become Catholic “because you get to learn about God more and see what he has done for you, for the community, and for society.”

Zachary’s father, Tom Phan, was baptized about three years ago at St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Ankeny. Recently, Zachary came to live with his dad.

“I wanted to put him in a good school, especially a Catholic school,” said Tom. “That’s how it all got started.”

Tom talked with Father Chris Fontanini, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, about Zachary’s interest in the faith.

Zachary’s favorite part of going to church is the quiet prayer time.

As for the faith, Zachary said: “My favorite part is learning what Jesus did to help people.”

He and Amir have been meeting with Halligan on Wednesdays after school to learn more about the faith.

Watching the two youth come into the church benefits the whole parish, said Father Fontanini.

“I think it’s heartening when they see young people wanting to embrace the faith. That’s certainly a positive witness for all of us,” he said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.