Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 10, 2006
Joining the Church is a family affair
The Groenewegens are five of 27 adults and children joining the Church this Easter
By BILL GLEN
"Kelly wanted to do it last year, but we fought over the S word - soccer."
- Wade Groenewegen
Kelly was raised in the Pentecostal Church while Wade's family was "non-denominational."
"Teaching in the system, following the religion curriculum and having our kids in the school, I wanted to learn more about it. It was time," Kelly said.
"I'm glad because we are doing this as a family."
Sister Lynn Rouleau is the RCIA director at Sacred Heart. She says the high number of candidates and catechumens is particularly special given that the parish will celebrate its centennial in June.
Rouleau says the spike in numbers is attributable to two factors: Father Don Stein and the mentoring program in the Catholic school district.
"The whole Catholic school team in Red Deer provides a good system where a concerted effort is made to make faith primary in the schools," Rouleau said.
"The program encourages new Catholic and non-Catholic teachers to attend monthly meetings during the year. They meet members of the community and are introduced to the care and concern of others in the schools.
"I think it sparks something within them, to see such an environment."
- WCR photo by Bill Glen
The three Groenewegen brothers – Rhys, 4, Gage, 8 and Quaid 11 – are joining their parents in becoming members of the Catholic Church.
The parishioners are welcoming and do a lot of outreach with friendship meals, Rouleau said. The parish has a social justice orientation.
But at its heart is its pastor.
"Father Don encourages people. He is very approachable and a big part of this with his support of the RCIA. And we have great catechists. It wouldn't work without this team."
Shona White is one of the teachers who was moved by the school division's mentorship group. With her husband Darrell and their two children (Dallas, 10, and Cody, 8), White began attending Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart.
"We had wanted to get them baptized for awhile when I started teaching at Ecole Camille J. Lerouge School. We have belonged to different churches but we wanted something more.
"We couldn't find a good fit until we went to Sacred Heart. We fell in love with Father Don."
White and her children will be baptized at Easter. She is proud to be a role model for her students.
"The three of us, sharing the same steps in our journey, is incredible. The kids are a little apprehensive about getting wet in front of people, but they're excited. Through RCIC, it surprises me how much they have learned and understand about their baptism."
I can't get into his (Wade's) head of course, but I've seen his realization of the love of Jesus."
- Bob Francis
The depth of Catholicism impressed White.
"I've been a Christian since Grade 8, but I started to see not what I was led to believe from outside the Catholic Church. There was so much learning to be done. I appreciate that."
As their children grow, the Groenewegens know the boys will have a support system when moments in their lives become difficult.
"Seeing Quaid participate in the celebrations, I feel confident that when he is in turmoil as a teenager, he will have something to think about knowing he belongs to something bigger than this year's brand of jeans," Wade said.
"He will have an anchor."
Bob Francis was a neighbour of the Groenewegens in Rocky Mountain House some 20 years ago when he worked with Wade's father. He never met Wade back then, but now he is Wade's RCIA sponsor.
"For one thing, it's an honour to be chosen as a sponsor," said Francis, 49. "It's one of the most important things I could do as a service for anyone, to help them come into a faith community.
"Becoming Catholic is the best thing anyone can do for their faith building."
Francis has been a member of Sacred Heart for more than six years, during which he has become a eucharistic minister. He also leads the parish's prayer group.
"Seeing Wade's faith grow gives me gratitude to the Lord. Every time you go to an RCIA session, you learn something. He has asked some very intelligent questions.
"He is dedicated to his belief system. I can't get into his head of course, but I've seen his realization of the love of Jesus."
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