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 6 When the time is right, the RCIA opportunity presents itself. RCIA participants have full lives and beginning the program can take both prayer and compromise to allow the necessary time. Kennedy’s RCIA participation centered around her family. “I knew I had small children so the process was delayed because I needed the time to be able to put towards this. It’s a commitment—every Sunday night. Those are big for our family. Sunday nights are our time for togetherness.” Last year, Kennedy took two significant steps toward her goal of beginning RCIA. The first step was sending an e-mail to learn more about RCIA, saying, “What do I need to do? This is the right time for me.” “I decided to help out this year because I got so much out of it, even as just a candidate.” Sara Holcomb - Sponsor “I wanted unity with my family.” Sheila Kennedy - Candidate The second step came in December, when she and her husband had their marriage validated on their 15-year wedding anniversary. “Our son held the rings and our daughter was the flower girl, she was all excited about that.” Sara Holcomb is Kennedy’s RCIA sponsor. Like Kennedy, Holcomb says her time had to be right to initiate her RCIA conversion. The first time she considered RCIA was eight years ago when one of her long-time friend’s husband died. Still in mourning, the friend was having a hard time going to mass alone. “I started going to mass with her at St. Theresa [Catholic Church]. I just loved the intentional aspect of mass and the recognition of what’s really, truly taking place. Whereas the church I was going to, you literally come running in at the last minute, throw your coffee down in your cup holder, and you’re very distracted and not focused.” Holcomb grew up in a non-denominational church and while attending the University of Iowa, she was involved with the Newman Catholic Student Center because she felt it was more in touch with younger people than the churches surrounding campus. But Holcomb didn’t make the choice to go through RCIA until last year. Since becoming Catholic, Holcomb says she has experienced a warmer welcome when visiting other churches than she did before her conversion. And while her RCIA class is complete, she says the RCIA group still gets together for barbecues and activities. That’s partially what motivates her to continue helping new candidates on their journeys. “I decided to help out this year because I got so much out of it, even as just a candidate.” Jon Ingraham is Ben Koenig’s sponsor and completed RCIA two years ago. As Ingraham explains, “For whatever reason I’ve been a lifelong member of Sacred Heart Church, but I never got confirmed.” Ingraham goes on to observe that his background is not all that unique, as many people who have grown up in the Catholic Church have made the decision to be confirmed later in life. “When I went though [RCIA], my wife was my sponsor.” Ingraham points out that at that time, sponsors didn’t attend classes along with the candidates as he does now with Koenig. “So to go through the process as a friend-in-faith and a friend
Spring 2018 7 in general has been a fun process. Ben’s doing all the work. I’m going back through the process for myself again just to make sure that I’m engaged, not only in my faith through this process, but also Ben’s . . . It’s a unique way for me to continue my faith.” McColley sees some of the same growth in herself and others. “For me, it’s fun to watch the reactions and the ‘a-ha moments’ each week . . . you can see on the faces of the candidates how things are becoming clearer and clearer. “I was looking at . . . our little pod of people and watching the class. It’s like they are children in adult bodies because they are all so enthusiastic and like little sponges . . . So for me to be part of [Laughlin’s] process is a double blessing, because I’m going through my own ritual of Lent and what that entails and, yet, on her shirt tails experiencing her first [Lent] and watching her go through it.” McColley has explained to Laughlin and others in the program, “You are getting the book knowledge of what the Catholic faith is. You’re learning the Ten Commandments, you’re learning what the laws are, you’re learning all those parts of the Catholic faith, but it’s being presented as how you live those laws and how you live Christ-like.” Laughlin experiences that Christ-like life in the way others in the group treat her. “I have felt nothing but love when I walked through the door and having Cindy as my sponsor—I couldn’t have been luckier. Opening conversations, meeting new people, being in a community with like-minded individuals that help raise each other up—I’m learning a lot, but I still have a long ways to go. But I’m here and I keep showing up and I think that is the best part.” Koenig feels a deep connection to the learning and the new significance of Lent. “Going through this process now, I’m truly understanding everything. I think a lot of people who go through their confirmation classes at a young age might not truly grasp the severity of everything, and what they are truly doing. That’s one thing I love about going through RCIA right now. I’m truly learning, being able to digest everything that’s being taught to me. Koenig reflects that before he had the knowledge, now he has an understanding, “A lot of this stuff I already know, but you’re truly hearing it with your ears. I see this as the home stretch of the whole process. Classes are getting deep, and “Now I have a stronger dedication to the season of Lent .” Jon Ingraham - Sponsor we’re getting in to the bones of everything, and I’m really starting to dig in and enjoy it. I’m excited. I’ve never experienced Lent like this.” Ingraham agrees, “It’s almost like a new pair of glasses. You’re seeing it in a different light, and as a sponsor, it allows me to go through confirmation again. I’m still learning. Things I might have missed three years ago I might see now and go ‘whoa.’” Ingraham reflects on his own rebirth during this Lenten season. “I was never as dedicated and I didn’t make a true sacrifice during the period of Lent. Sure, I didn’t eat meat on Fridays, I mean, we’re supposed to get the Eucharist every week, right? Well, I’m not perfect,” he confesses. “ But now I have a stronger dedication to the season of Lent and it’s fun to sit around with my family and ask ‘What are you giving up?’ Or ‘What are you going to add or change?’ It’s not always about giving something up. It’s neat to have those conversations .. . I’m engaged and I’m part of it.” Koenig adds, “I’m making a conscious effort because I want to be here. In the end, it was my decision to go through all of this.” Laughlin looks back on earlier years and looks ahead to the future. “In previous years, Lent never crossed my mind. I thought people were kind of crazy for giving things up. ‘You guys are putting yourself through this for what purpose?’ And now I’m looking at it through the eyes of ‘I’m excited to prepare myself to receive the sacrament of baptism and everything that entails and everything else that’s [going to] follow.’”U