More than 1,000 will enter local church this Easter

By Catholic New World
Sunday, April 8, 2012

It’s a tradition and part of the rites in the Catholic Church that those wanting to join the faith receive the sacraments of initiation (baptism, Communion and confirmation) during the Easter Vigil Mass. This year, more than 1,000 people will enter into full communion with the church on April 7. In this Year of Teens and Young Adults, two young women share why they are choosing to enter the Catholic Church.

Martia Bradley

University of Chicago

I grew up surrounded by religion. My mother is a lapsed Catholic. One of my aunts is the wife of a Baptist minister; another one of my aunts is a Buddhist. My best friends are members of a Pentecostal church and I have many Jewish friends, who I met while attending a Presbyterian elementary school. One could say my life is in fact a patchwork of religions.

Surprisingly, while I respected and appreciated my friends, their religious lives did not really appeal to me. I was Goldie Locks with the Three Bears’ porridge saying “That’s not quite right.” I longed to share my faith with a community, but I did not really have an idea what faith was.

After a while, I began to recite excuses about why I could not attend services with friends. “I have too much work.” “I am not feeling well.” And my personal favorite “I do not need to go to church to have a relationship with God.” Yes, I believed in God, and yes, I respected and practiced what one calls the Golden Rule, but I never really knew who God was, how to speak to him or, more importantly, how to listen.

The summer before my first year of college two of my close family friends died. I did not know how to deal with such loss. I remember feeling completely abandoned and hopeless and I carried those feelings with me into college.

I struggled my first year of college with depression homesickness and self-esteem issues. I was bombarded with a world full of alcohol and “hooking up,” and I knew immediately there was no solace to be found in that world for me.

With no other options and not wanting to ruin the college experience of my peers, I focused all my energies on classes. Instead of going to church, I went to therapy. I woke up every morning and went to class and returned to my dorm to switch out my books and kept mostly to myself. Even my weekends were filled with long library stays. I was very lonely, especially watching my peers join in communities that seemed to fit them so well.

Every day on my way to classes I passed a building called Calvert House, which I found out later was the Catholic Student Association, ironically right next to the building that housed my therapist office.

I began my second year of school, determined to pull myself out of depression. I found myself wandering around campus, in search of something to do, something that would not involve being so isolated, and found myself wandering into Mass. I don’t know why I decided to attend Mass that day, or what compelled me to enter that building that looked nothing like a church to me.

One day, I crept into Mass, feeling like I was intruding on a private party. But I spotted someone who I knew from classes and sat next to her, and she gave me a warm smile and gave me an overview of what to do. I left Mass feeling the bleak cloud of loneliness begin to lift.

I attended RCIA the very next Sunday and knew that I was home. I had been led to a community full of people who welcomed me with open arms and gave me a new motto to always remind me that I am a child of God: “You are glorious in the sight of God and he, your Creator, loves you!”

Rachel Grubb

Northwestern University

She is: A graduate student studying orchestral conducting (and violin) at Northwestern University. Music Director of the Chicago Merit School of Music’s Junior Orchestra. Violinist in the Missouri Symphony Orchestra. Born and raised in Knoxville, Tenn., in the Episcopal Church.

A Christian: First walked into a Catholic church in early May 2011. Became a Christian by the grace of God two weeks later.

My story: Looking back, I see so many arrows from God pointing to where I am today: completing RCIA and a few short weeks away from receiving the Eucharist and officially entering the Catholic Church in Rome!

I moved to Evanston a year and a half ago to study at Northwestern and was a staunch ignorer and avoider of God. However, a few persistent friends coaxed me into a fantastic Bible study group and planted a few seeds in just the right places. These seeds came in the form of questions: Is the Bible the Word of God? Can it be backed up with science and history? Is Jesus who he says he is?

A hardy scientific method approach will yield the results of “yes” to these questions. After a few months of Bible study and casually attending a Lutheran church on campus, I decided to take the 10 Commandments seriously and really see what that would do for my life, Sabbath included.

One Sunday, I was doing a “hard core” Sabbath day off, with no cooking, lights or homework. Five walks, three naps, two church services, a book, and lots of quiet time later, I was walking past the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern right before the 9 p.m. student Mass. I decided to go in and see what this church was all about. (Since, in music schools we study the Mass for its music history.)

What I found there — the miracles that night and the truth of the faith — blew my mind. When I sat down and was listening to the readings, I felt God saying very clearly and repeatedly, “Rachel, this is where you are supposed to be.”

The homily given by Father John exactly answered the question I had been asking God for some months, and many other amazing things happened that night. And what a surprise to find out that Catholics have daily Mass.

So, I went everyday for two and a half weeks and had the same experience: “Rachel, this is where you are supposed to be.” and Father John’s homily exactly answering a question I had asked God that day. It was astonishing. So, I decided I should stop arguing with God and join his church. About a week later, I decided to follow Jesus Christ, too.

With the grace of God: This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend World Youth Day with the pope and 2 million of my closest friends. As one priest put it: It was my welcome into the Catholic Church. God has no limit to what he will do in your life if you welcome him on in. I will be entering the one holy Catholic and apostolic church with confirmation and first Eucharist this Easter Vigil in Rome.

My challenge: I challenge you to really know your faith, because it’s so beautiful. Every “hard” topic has a wealth of love, inspiration from God, rich scholarship, and human insight from 2,000 years of making saints backing it up. I challenge you to “learn why” for your hard topics.