Spring 2018 edition of Home Faith magazine. An outreach publication of the St. Joseph Educational Center in West Des Moines, IA.
Rebirth Home Faith Magazine - www.SJECIowa.org 10 He too shares the belief that the initial time in RCIA is one of inquiry. “People come in to find out what this is about . . . to see people absorb that, and to find out this is something that means a lot to them, and finish the job to become Catholic— it’s a time of renewal.” Casey also highlights that for some participants it is the first time they experience a prayerful process. “For a lot of people, the whole idea of taking in the information, spending time in prayer, and realizing their lives are missing the relationship with God can be very hard. It’s hard to start a new discipline, or some new ways of life, or the efforts of getting to mass regularly, or giving up things that aren’t important or reevaluating our priorities. It’s something all of us do every year in Lent . . then, as Catholics, when we get to Easter, we rejoice in the resurrection.” As Casey explains, “For our candidates, they are actually experiencing a transformation. Not only are they experiencing the sacraments, but the sacraments are real. Something truly real—in the fullest sense of the word—happens to them. They are baptized. They are completely made new. They’re confirmed and really given the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They receive the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. If they are open to it and have done their work, their lives are going to be completely different.” Paul can attest to that difference. His journey has included some detours. Paul says he grew up Catholic and then spent 13 years as a Protestant before returning to the Catholic faith. He describes his personal return as an “intellectual experience” and expected others joining the faith might share his intellectual reservations. “Some do, but most people come from a different perspective. Some of them have been going to mass and have been married to a Catholic. They don’t have particular concerns, they just want to complete the journey. Or somebody visited Sacred Heart Parish, they felt at home there and they want to join, or they have a friend there. For me to realize that was great. It was freeing. Everyone has a different journey here, and it kind of goes with [the meaning of the word] Catholic: Catholic is universal and people come from all different places and [have] different reasons. The RCIA process is to meet them there and walk the next part of the journey with them.”U IN THEIR WORDS How are RCIA and Lent similar and how can Catholics support RCIA? On Baptism: After catechumens are baptized, they exit the church to change to dry clothes for the rest of the mass. “I have been standing at the back when they come down the aisle when they are all wet, there’s just the joy and excitement and smiles and tears . . . to be able to see that for these people who have been going through this journey, it’s just very exciting. It’s joyful.” -Paul Connor On what Catholics can do: “I would say the very easiest things people can do is welcome people when they are at mass. Go up to someone [and] welcome them, just let them know you are happy they are there. Whether they are Catholic or not Catholic—it shouldn’t matter. Just be a welcoming parish . . . because that’s why people are interested in becoming Catholic . . . because for most people, someone they know has opened that door to them [and] they want to feel welcomed. We have a strong desire to belong.” -Casey Connor On Prayer: “Pray for our candidates, pray for our catechumens. That is so important. It’s a difficult journey to keep going on. When people first [begin RCIA] they can be really excited and the excitement can wear off. Pray for them.” On Next Steps: -Casey Connor “Most people who go through RCIA find it profoundly life changing. The closer encounter with Christ is going to have an impact on you, for the positive. One of the things we try and emphasize is ‘Okay, RCIA is ending. Life in the parish is expanding and growing. Try and find something to plug into.’ We expose them to all of the different activities in the church and ask them to find something to adopt.” -Paul Connor
Spring 2018 11 The Lenten season can be both an ending of old and a beginning of new. We can deepen the moment. Takeaways Welcome both Catholics and non-Catholics when you meet them at mass. Pray for our candidates and catechumens, as well as the parishioners who guide them on their journeys. Be joyful in your life and in your faith. Live an authentic Christian life and be all that God has planned and intended for you. Call to action Around the dinner table: Talk about Lent and take time to listen to each other's words and thoughts. Offer and reflect on examples of both endings and new beginnings. Parents and children: Talk about your faith formation experiences and make connections with your children about similarities between their experiences and your own faith journey. Welcome: Greet someone, a new person or an old friend, when you attend mass this week and remind them they are truly welcome.