Two newly received parishioners of St Aidan's in Winstanley, Wigan share their thoughts on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults rite of welcome and acceptance.
My journey to faith started as a child. Growing up I always felt something was missing. Everyone I met along the way had been baptised; I knew I felt the same, believed the same, but I was missing something. Years went by. Then, after my first child, we spoke about baptism and it got me thinking – this could be my time too.
I looked into it, spoke to the church and heard about RCIA. At the time it seemed like a massive commitment. Was I ready? I wasn't so sure – maybe a little scared. Time passed by again and my lovely second child arrived. After the birth I suffered from an infection and I am told I am lucky to still be here. This got me thinking: maybe Jesus is looking out for me, and there is a reason I am still here. I should show my commitment back, so here I am!
The first night at the meeting I felt terribly nervous, but everyone was kind and welcoming, like old friends. I may sit there quietly but I take it all in and love to listen to the other opinions in the room. Since starting the process I feel I have grown massively as a person. I am much less judgemental and more considerate. I still have much to learn, and don't believe we ever stop doing so. Also, since starting the group, I like to take a minute each day to think of the world and all the things I have to be grateful for.
Today was the next step in my journey. We arrived at church with time to spare – for the first time ever. This was it: the rite of welcome and acceptance! When the first hymn started, I was welling up. I was thinking, "How am I going to actually speak here, in front of the whole church?" Well, I needn't have worried. Jesus was with me and passed on some strength. It was a lovely moment after I had said my piece and the whole church applauded. I felt relieved, encouraged and like I was doing the right thing. I am now looking forward to the rite of election at the Cathedral with my family and friends around me – to taking the next step.
I have been attending Sunday Mass at St Aidan's with my wife and our children for over ten years now as they are all baptised Catholics. Therefore my decision to become a Catholic felt like a natural one. I was baptised at Rainford parish church as a baby. As a child I attended Sunday school with family or neighbours, both here in England and in Canada where I emigrated with my parents and younger brother.
Firstly I approached the deacon last year who asked me to have a meeting with one of the parish priests. He referred me to the RCIA team for the area. I then started to attend regular meetings in September and have found these meetings both enjoyable and informative. I have now had the rite of welcome in my local parish as part of my journey towards reception into full communion with the Catholic Church.
I was overwhelmed by the support of the parishioners, our new priest Father Jean Paul and the members of the RCIA team who came along. I am now looking forward to the rite of election at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool in March, where again I will be fully supported by my family and other parishioners from St Aidan's.