Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 26, 2009
RCIA launches a teacher's spiritual journey
WCR PHOTO | GLEN ARGAN
Teacher Brad Starratt shares his faith with his grade 3 class.
BY LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Standing in St. Theresa’s Church, Brad Starratt realized he felt “almost like I was at home.”
And home he will be at this year’s Easter Vigil after completing his two years of RCIA and Baptism and Confirmation.
This 29-year-old teacher’s journey to find his spiritual home has been a long one. Born in Hantsport, N.S., Brad lived a contented life with his dad John, a carpenter, and mother Wanda who stayed at home to take care of Brad and older brother Brentt. Church did not enter into their family life.
“We started to play hockey from when I was five to 13 and the games were usually Sunday morning,” explains Brad.
ONLY AT CHRISTMAS
“I can remember going to church at Christmas with my grandmother who was a Baptist and went to church regularly,’ recalls Brad.
But while his parents did have “a degree of faith and belief in God,” they did not attend Sunday services.
Like many Maritimers, Brad headed to Alberta after high school. The labouring jobs left Brad dissatisfied and he realized he needed to prepare for a career.
After reflecting on his experience teaching kids at sports camps, “I decided teaching was for me.”
He’s in his second year of teaching Grade 3 at St. Clement School. Asked how it’s going, he dissolves into smiles.
“I love it. The energy of the class. I come and get to have fun all day. When you see the light in their eyes, it’s so fulfilling. Sure there are some bad days, but just a few.”
Near the end of all that schooling, Brad met Katie through a soccer friend.They started dating but it wasn’t serious. Still, when Katie and her family went to Mass Sunday morning, Brad tagged along.
“I began to see it was filling in some of the gaps that I had when I was growing up — things I didn’t have answers to because I didn’t have a religious background,” says Brad.
Like a rosebud, Brad’s faith unfolded.
“To me I am just opening up my heart and becoming a Catholic for myself and all that I do in my life. My beliefs that I had just through development and maturing as a person coincided with what the Catholic Church stood for.
“The foundation, the doctrine have not changed. The Church is built on this rock. It is not going to change.”
Brad and Katie’s relationship deepened and he realized they might marry.
“So it was very important to me at that point to become a Catholic, not only for marriage but for my own personal faith development.”
Brad’s parents applauded his move. His buddies razzed Brad, peppering him with questions.
“But I explained it to them, stuck up for my reasons and they respected that.”
Because Brad had been through the Rite of Acceptance, he and Katie were married in the Church in August.
Brad says his two years of RCIA instruction impacted him personally.
“I try to make an effort to be a more reflective type of person — stand back and look at things from all angles before reacting, have patience.”
When it comes to discussing topics of a religious nature, “I have changed immensely. My knowledge base has grown exponentially since starting this course. I started from essentially nothing, just knowing a few of the more popular stories from the Bible.”
He delights in “knowing the ins and the outs of the prophets, the different celebrations within the Catholic Church, talking about the Gospel to my kids.”
SHARE THE FAITH
Teaching in the Catholic system is crucial to Brad. “I wanted to work in a system that is based on the foundations of my faith. . . . And in the Catholic school we can talk about the teachings of Jesus and spread the word of the Gospel without feeling someone is going to look down their nose at you.”
To receive a continuous contract with the school district, Brad must be a baptized Catholic. So that too changes come Easter Vigil. With both the personal and professional aspects of his life surrounded by the Church, Brad says he is “engulfed in the Catholic faith.”
With the Easter Vigil less than three months away, Brad finds the anticipation “quite exciting and a bit nerve wracking.
“It took a fair amount of commitment, but there’s a nice reward at the end. I know I am going into a historical Church – joining with millions of people. I am becoming Catholic, being baptized in Jesus’ name, living a life of service, living in the footsteps of Jesus.”