Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 17, 2000
Four stories of faith
Wetaskiwin RCIA quartet prepare for sacraments at Easter
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Jim Richards was baptized in the Anglican Church. His wife Janet in the United Church. Jim Angus grew up in the Lutheran Church. Diana Acosta's parents were Catholics, but Sundays at work meant a no-show at Mass.
The common feature they share is their desire to walk the rest of their lives as Catholics.
"This is where we wanted to be," said Jim Richards, who lives on a farm near Mulhurst. "The (Catholic) Church has an unbroken history. It's a very strong Church."
The quartet, which until about two weeks ago was a group of six, is among 296 catechumens and candidates throughout the Edmonton Archdiocese preparing to be received into the Church.
They have been attending weekly Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes at Sacred Heart Church since September. RCIA prepares participants to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, usually during the Easter celebration. The process can take up to a year depending on the individual.
Those who have not been baptized in other Christian churches are catechumens, while those who have, such as the four at Sacred Heart, referred to as candidates, are not re-baptized.
This year's RCIA group at Sacred Heart is not an overwhelming number. Last year's group of 10 was one of the largest. But in this small city, the numbers have been steady enough to keep the RCIA coordinators busy year after year.
Jim Angus, 58, decided to join the Church because he promised his wife 30 years ago that he would. He can't say why he took so long, but the reason doesn't matter to his wife Jean. She's just thrilled he's doing it.
"I was never against joining the Church," said Angus, who accompanied Jean to Mass occasionallly on Sundays as well as at Easter and Christmas. "I just never got around to doing it."
But through those years little comments people made would make him stop and wonder what the Church could offer him. He recalls one conversation when his son Tom didn't want to go to church and his uncle said "Don't you want to go to a better place when you die?"
"It's statements like that that make you wonder if you're on the right track or not," Angus said. "And if you're not, maybe you should start looking for it."
Angus was never one to deny the existence of an all-powerful and loving God. Being a farmer, he knows the birth of farm animals and the blooming of crocuses are not just natural occurrences.
"Someone's got a hand in that," he said. "There's something to be said about all that."
Since being in RCIA, Angus attends Mass regularly with his family and "it's made me enjoy coming to church more. I'm coming to understand it more."
RCIA has not only given Angus some insight, but it has also provided his wife Jean a chance to refresh some of her understanding of the Catholic faith.
"It's been really good for me," she said. "It's been good for me to learn about things I did (during Mass) but sometimes didn't understand."
The Richards' interest in joining the Catholic Church goes back to last year when they decided they wanted to set a good example for their grown sons. Their sons married Catholics who were not regular churchgoers.
However, the Richards wanted their family to recognize the need to include God in their lives.
"We want to show them how important it is for them to get back into the Church," said Jim Richards, 58. "There was no interest in something like this when we were first married. When you're in your 20s, you think you're invincible. . . . You don't think about the importance of God."
Richards' life has slowed down a little since deciding to join the Church. In the past Sunday was just another workday, now they have set it aside for Mass.
"We gotta get back to the basics," he said. "We have to slow down in our lives - we were running on an empty tank. But now there's this feeling of peace as we're looking forward to that time (at Mass), when you slow down and rest.
"We as Christians have to stand together in our Christian faith. People like politicians listen to numbers. We would have more credibility if we all got together and had one voice instead of a dozen little ones."
RCIA has opened a door on the Bible for Richards. He remembers Scripture as "archaic mind-numbing" vocabulary.
"Now I get this understanding that I never got before," he said. "Jesus' ministry was only three years, but it made such a lasting impact. It made a difference in the world."
His wife Janet added, "And the homilies are easier to understand today."
At 21, Acosta is the baby of the group, but her Catholic background makes her the veteran.
Both her parents are Catholic and she was baptized in the Church as an infant, but Sunday Masses were not a regular family commitment. It was due to a little persistence from her Catholic boyfriend that she sought out RCIA.
Being with RCIA, Acosta has sensed the growth in her faith and lifestyle.
"I'm starting to notice where God is - around us everywhere - and that I'm not in charge, he is."