with guest columnist Nadine Duncan, St. Mary Minister of Pastoral Care
Last Sunday at the 9:45 am Mass, six wonderful people took the next step in the RCIA process through the Rite of Election and Continuing Call to Conversion. They now enter the Period of Purification and Enlightenment. This will be completed during the Easter Vigil when they will be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
They have been on an amazing journey which started for many of them last July. Sunday after Sunday we have met through Zoom to explore our relationship with Jesus Christ, to learn about the Church, and what it means to be part of our parish family.
It has been a challenge because of this pandemic. Not only have I not been able to introduce them to so many of you, the wonderful, dedicated parishioners of St. Mary whose love for Jesus and our parish continues to inspire me, I had not met three of them face-to-face until last Sunday. It was such a joy to see them all in person and to hear them say to Fr. Bill and our parish family that they were ready to join us. Here is a little about each of them.
Amanda Lee is truly a seeker of God. She discovered St. Mary and the Mass over the last two years. When I got to know her, she shared her amazing story of how she has been seeking God since she was very young. She found that when she was away from the Mass and St. Mary, she would miss it and feel God was calling her back. She also gave me the great privilege of being her sponsor.
Jake Zwayer and his wife and sponsor, Alex have known each other since they were young and growing up in a small town in Ohio. They moved to Appleton for work and searched for a parish until they found St. Mary. They are inspired by Fr. Bill’s homilies and the warm welcome they received when they came to Mass before the pandemic. Jake and Alex were raised in families that instilled in them a great love for their faith and God. They want to have children someday and give them the same gift their parents through the grace of God gave to them.
Many of you know our wonderful Beth Vanderloop, her husband Nathan, and their beautiful son, Gabriel. They have been part of our Sunday worship for a few years now. The last time I saw them in person, Nathan was toting Gabriel around in a carrier. Now he is eagerly exploring the world on his own two feet. Their love for Jesus and their faith as individuals, and as a couple is inspiring. Joe Mauthe is Beth’s sponsor and has been a blessing to our Sunday Zoom meetings.
Drew Hoppes is the newest to RCIA. Drew grew up in Iowa and Rachel, his fiance and sponsor, north of Milwaukee. They found each other in Appleton. They plan on getting married next year and want to be one in their faith. Drew is refreshingly down to earth about life and his relationship with God.
Marissa Menting is the only RCIA member baptized Catholic. As a teenager, she was not ready for Confirmation but is eager now. She will be married in October and wants to be fully initiated into the Church before then. She is gentle and kind and loves God. She is encouraged and supported on her journey by her mother, Lynn, and fiance, William.
And last and most inspiring of all is Layna Petersen. Layna is a middle schooler and greatly desires to become Catholic. Statistics tell us that most adults who no longer practice their faith report they began to drift away when they were thirteen years old. It’s amazing to see God work in the life of such a beautiful young person. Layna is loved, encouraged, and supported by her parents, Rachel and Matt. She is exploring her relationship with Jesus and the Church with her catechist, Rick Duncan, and her good friend, Catie Power.
Please pray for all our elect as they near the Easter Vigil, where they will fulfill their desire to become full members of our Church and bless us as members of our parish family. I look forward to the day when we are all back together and you also have the opportunity and privilege to get to know these amazing and inspiring brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.