Monday, April 14, 2014

RCIA: Welcome to the Church!

With Easter right around the corner, we are about to celebrate the end of this year’s Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program on campus. This is a program through which Christians of various denominations receive the sacraments to become full members of the Catholic Church. . I had the privilege of talking with two Notre Dame members of the Elect who will receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist at Saturday’s Easter Vigil Mass in the Basilica. Both of their perspectives on joining the Catholic Church were beautiful to hear, and excerpts from their interviews are as follows.

Sean Yuan is a junior Business major at Notre Dame:

Q. Why did you decide to participate in the RCIA program?
Sean: I wanted that sense of peace and to participate in this wonderful community. I decided that the Catholic faith provides me with a lifestyle that teaches me to become who I was meant to be. It's a comforting thought, but not a comfortable lifestyle by any means. In fact, I think being Catholic in this world is one of the toughest decisions to make. But without being intentional, I feel that my life wouldn't have any direction.

Q. Can you walk me through your RCIA experience?
Sean: I was a bit nervous at first, because I didn't really know what I was getting into. However, I learned that I don't have to figure out everything to become Catholic. My faith journey has taught me that it's all about building a loving relationship with God, and as time goes on, God will slowly reveal to me more and more when I'm ready for it. Meanwhile, I'll do my best to keep reading and learning from my friends.

Q. What are you most looking forward to upon entering the Catholic Church?
Sean: First Communion, hands down (or up, in reverence). We're all just hungry, imperfect children, and God promises to keep us nourished in this lifetime until we may finally join him after death. Wow. I could never deserve this, but God gives freely anyway. That's some serious love.

Q. What advice do you have for someone considering joining the RCIA program?
Sean:  If any readers are at all interested in getting confirmed, or know someone who might, please contact Campus Ministry.They're seriously the happiest, most qualified people for this. It's thanks to their tireless efforts and the Holy Spirit that I made it this far. If you're a Catholic and wondering if you can help, consider applying to be someone's sponsor. It's a really rewarding experience.

Faith Spady is a Sophomore Architect Major.

Q. Can you walk me through your RCIA experience?
Faith: I remember being at the first couple meetings and wondering “Why on earth are these people so happy?” There really is a sense that everyone is sharing each other’s joy and triumphs as well as their pain.

Q. What are you most looking forward to upon entering the Catholic Church?
Faith: The Eucharist. It was one of the most powerful motivating factors throughout this process of discerning my faith, long before I ever even knew about RCIA. When I was very little, my dad used to take me to mass with him and he would take me up with him to receive communion. He had to explain to me after the mass that I couldn't partake in it because I wasn't a part of the church – growing up, the agreement between my parents on the issue had always been that I'd choose one day which Church I would belong to when I was older so I had not been baptized or received First Communion.The mass is supposed to be so much more, something that requires full and active participation. I could feel that as a young girl. If I say to anyone else that being denied a tiny little wafer was painful, they will look at me like I'm crazy. If I say it to a Catholic, they'll understand precisely what I mean. It’s rare to find a Catholic who hasn't slipped up at some point by not attending mass for a few weeks or not going to reconciliation. Many will say how hard it is, how painful when you start up again. Perhaps some of the pain is from the guilt of not coming, but mostly it’s the idea that when given the opportunity you denied yourself of the Eucharist, of Christ.

Q. What advice do you have for someone considering joining the RCIA program?

Faith: RCIA is not just to convert "pagans" or bring people back into the church. It is clearly illustrated in the definition of conversion which is supposed to be a turning towards God. That could be the initial big turn or a continued step in the right direction. It’s not supposed be like stepping out onto a straight paved road, where getting on is all you really have to do. There will be rocks and dips in the path, you will get tired and you will question yourself at times. Why did I get on this path? What am I supposed to do now? It looks disturbing up ahead, should I keep going? How can I? The little things are usually what refresh us enough to pursue the faith a bit longer.

Thanks so much to Faith and Sean for sharing your experience in the RCIA program! I am so excited for you both to be able to share in full communion with the Church this Saturday!

May you cling to Wisdom, for She will protect you…and if you cherish her, she will keep you safe.” Book of Proverbs

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