Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 21, 2005
He found his way to the church
Young Nepali among 230 who will become Catholic at Easter
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Amid ancient temples and monasteries dotting the Himalayan hills in his native Nepal, Enosh Rokaya was taught to pray in a modest Christian church.
His parents were first-generation evangelical Christians in a land firmly entrenched in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Often they were persecuted for refusing to be silent about their faith.
Christianity is considered little more than a mind-controlling cult, said Rokaya, 23. Christians have been labelled as "cow eaters."
But persecution did not dissuade them from making Christ the centre of their lives.
Rokaya was one of 230 Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults candidates and catechumens from 37 parishes across the Edmonton Archdiocese who affirmed their desire to become part of the Catholic Church.
About 900 people attended the Feb. 12-13 events at St. Joseph's Basilica. Archbishop Thomas Collins was pleased to see the basilica filled with candidates, sponsors, catechists and family members prior to the Feb. 13 celebration.
"This is an exciting time, to welcome so many people into the Catholic Church," he told the WCR. "I only have a brief moment to greet them, but I try to get to know them all."
The numbers are down from last year, when 270 candidates and catechumens from 42 parishes participated.
Baptized in Kathmandu
Catechumens are non-baptized adults who want to receive the sacrament of Baptism in the Catholic Church. Candidates have been baptized into the Christian faith but will receive Confirmation and the Eucharist to complete the sacraments of initiation.
Rokaya was baptized as a boy in Kathmandu. His parents have always wanted him to live a faithful life and befriend other Christians.
He says becoming Catholic might come as a bit of a surprise to his parents. "They know I have completed the RCIA program, yet they do not completely understand its significance."
Rokaya attended St. Francis Xavier School in Kathmandu, run by the Jesuits and took catechism classes. "At that time, I noticed the Catholic Church and the classes I took had a deeper meaning, but I was too young to know what it was."
Rokaya came to Canada in 2000 to study at a Bible college in Saskatchewan. The next year he moved to Augustana University College in Camrose, graduating in May 2004 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. There he met Tom Lorenz, the son of Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage coordinator Rod Lorenz.
Rokaya volunteered at the pilgrimage in 2001 and 2002, meeting Archbishop Thomas Collins.
Pilgrimage awoke interest
After the pilgrimage, Rokaya wanted to learn more about Catholic traditions. He began attending Camrose's St. Francis Xavier Parish regularly. The timing was perfect because the moment he asked for information on the RCIA, he was told they were about to hold the first meeting of the season.
Rokaya was introduced to Dennis Sherbaniuk, the parish's RCIA coordinator, who was amazed by Rokaya's depth and spiritual awareness.
"Enosh is very spiritually advanced," Sherbaniuk said. "He was someone we turned to every now and again as a resource because of his background. His spirituality is very powerful."
When Rokaya was greeted by Collins at the Rite, he was delighted the archbishop remembered him from Lac Ste. Anne.
"He recalled I took some pictures of him. He welcomed me to the Church and told me to continue my journey. And I will. It was very moving."
Rokaya is keeping his options open. He may return to Nepal if his work permit is not renewed. He hopes to attend Newman College this fall if it is.
As for entering the priesthood, Rokaya says that is up to God.
"I am not discounting the possibility. I will let God's will be done. So far, it has been beautiful. He has opened doors for me, bringing me to the Catholic Church," he said. "I don't know what it is, but I think he has more in store for me."
Cameron and Dawnaleen Brett of Lloydminster chose the Catholic Church because they want a forum that would consistently teach their four sons - Brenden 14, Skylar 12, Christopher 10 and Zachary 9 - good morals.
"The kids have all been enrolled in Catholic schools and we gradually became more involved," Cameron said.
Dawnaleen was emotional about entering the Catholic Church. "It is very exciting and interesting, but a little bit scary. It is a big decision but everyone has been welcoming. We feel like we are part of another family," she said.
"I've always had faith and at times when I was young, faith was all I had," she said. "We wanted our boys to have faith in their lives and to learn what the Church is all about."
Going through RCIA and joining the Church has brought the Bretts closer together. "I have learned to make more time for my family," Cameron said. "We are very busy but because of RCIA, I began to manage my time a little better. We do more things together. It has been exciting for the boys."
Newlywed Heidi Cabay is a massage therapist from Ponoka. She attended Mass regularly, but found she was not very committed. Following her wedding last August to her husband Tony, she enrolled in RCIA through St. Augustine Parish so that if children begin to arrive, the doors of the Church will be open for them.
"I have been involved in the Catholic Church as a non-member," said Cabay who has been baptized but never received her First Communion.
"I went to church on Sundays with family and friends, but I was just feeling things out. But I have known for some time I've wanted to join."
She said she is a happier person now. She called the RCIA experience "wonderful" and described her personal growth in terms of "more of a willingness to help others."
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