This past March we welcomed three new members into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil at SEAS.: Peter Russell, Steven Castella, and Louis Zwaan. Following are the reflections of Peter Russell and Steven Castella.
Reflection by Peter Russell
When I was told that I needed, as a part of the RCIA process, to state before the congregation why I wanted to become a member of the Catholic Church, the reason was immediately clear to me – I had been attending Mass with my wife for over 40 years, and I thought it was time to participate fully. That – to me – explained everything. But, I came to find as I went through the RCIA program, that what I had thought was the “reason” for everything, was actually nothing more than the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Once I decided to start the RCIA program, the question I posed to myself (which question was also posed to me by others) was – why now- why after all these years? And the simple answer is – I don’t know. I can point exactly to the date on which I decided to participate in the RCIA program, but why I never thought before of doing that is a complete mystery to me. I think, as Diane suggested to me, that I heard God calling to me, and I am grateful (more so than I ever thought possible) that He did, and that I heard Him.
Well, old habits die hard, and I was not at all sure that after 40 years I would be receptive to the teachings of the Catholic Church, let alone being able to master them. But, I need not have worried. Until I started the RCIA program, I truly had no idea as to how much I had been missing out on. I was amazed. In my mind, it was similar to the sensation I had had as a child when I suddenly realized that I had learned how to read – I realized then that all of the characters on the page formed words, and that I was able to understand those words, and most importantly, I was able to comprehend what the author was trying to say. The same sensation came over me as we started to RCIA lessons – all of a sudden, with the guidance of the RCIA team, the pieces came together, and things that had never made any sense to me now became perfectly clear. What a gift! It changed my life, and I can’t think of a single situation that I have ever encountered in my life where “Better late than never” would be more true.
God called to me to become a member of the Church, and now that I am a member, He has continued to speak to me, and to guide me, in ways too numerous to count. From life decisions, down to the most mundane of daily activities, I feel His presence like I never did before. The peace and the clarity I experience now are gifts beyond description – far beyond anything I had a right to even hope for. I pray that I can be a good person and a good Catholic – to fulfill the promise of what has been offered to me by joining the Church. I thank God for this blessing, and the many other blessings that have been bestowed upon me, especially my wife, whose patience with me is obviously infinite. God works in mysterious ways.
Reflection by Steven Castella
I was baptized Catholic as a baby. However, other than celebrating Christmas and Easter, I was essentially raised in a home empty of religion. It wasn’t until I met my wife, Amy, that faith started to become a part of my life. It was at this time that I began to attend Mass regularly. We would later marry in the Church and continue to attend Mass when our children were born. And although I was not a full member, I was fortunate enough to become exposed to the beauty of the Catholic Church.
However, as the years passed by and my daughters began attending Religious Formation, I realized that when it came to my faith, there was a void in my life that I needed to fill. And it was last fall, when my youngest daughter began her preparation to receive her First Communion, that I realized that I needed to do more than just simply attend Mass. This realization was important not only so that I could be an example for my daughters, but also for my own growth as a person. It was at this point, with Amy as my sponsor, that I committed to joining the RCIA program.
The RCIA program provided the knowledge I was looking for about the teachings of Christ and the Catholic faith. But I think even more importantly, it provided the spiritual growth I was looking for to fill the void in my life. And because I was fortunate enough to have my wife as my sponsor, it has strengthened my marriage. And now that I am a full member of the Catholic Church and can receive Eucharist with my daughters, I believe it will strengthen our family for years to come.
The way adults become
members of the Catholic Church!
Breaking Open the Word
The Rites of the RCIA ~ at the cathedral…
…and at SEAS
The Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil
The Newly Received and their Sponsors