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A Lenten journey to a Catholic Faith

Frank McDonnell tells the stories of those enrolled in Motherwell Diocese's Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and reveals what inspired them to join the Church.

Across Scotland last Sunday, men, women and children who are set to become Catholics at Easter took part in the Rite of Election, a key final staging post in Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is a formal program of catechetical instruction, practice (prayer and spirituality), and liturgies whereby adults are formally admitted into the Church and receive the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.

Present were both the non-Baptised, known as ‘catechumens,’ and also those who are Baptised but are not yet in full-communion with the Catholic Church, known as ‘candidates.’

In Motherwell Diocese, one of those taking part in the Rite of Election was Jacqueline McCluskey, 35, from St Margaret and St Serf’s, Airdrie.

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She attended with her husband and sponsor Gerard and their son Nathan.

She said: “I was Baptised in the Church of Scotland when I was 10 and I was brought up going to the Church. Then 15 years ago I met my husband. We’ve been going to Mass on and off [since they met].

We finally got married last year and it just made sense for us and our family to be of one Faith. It makes sense, it feels right, like the right thing to do.”

Isabella Brannigan, 48, of St Ambrose, Bailleston said: “I’ve been thinking about becoming a Catholic for years and years but never got around to doing it.

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“My dad was Catholic and I recently thought ‘I need to do this.’

“I used to go to Mass with a former boyfriend and I found that I got something from it. Here I am today: delighted and excited about what lies ahead.”

Andrew Russell, 47, of St John the Baptist’s, Uddingston said: “We’re all going to be confirmed as a family: myself, my daughter who’s 16 and my son who’s 10.”

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“I grew up Church of Scotland on the Isle of Arran. I went to Sunday school and was effectively taught about God and visiting Church as a child. We had a great minister on the island.

“Over the years I drifted away from that faith. I met my wife over 20 years ago, who’s a cradle-Catholic but lapsed and who, I guess, wanted to return to the Church a few years ago. The catalyst for that was a few challenges in her life.

“That was a tipping-point for her going back to the Church and she asked me if I would come with her and, of course, I said yes. We started our journey around 18 months ago.

“We retook our vows at Easter last year so that we could officially be married in the Catholic Church.

“I was invited to the RCIA process about a year ago… it’s probably brought us closer together as a family.”

Peter Hone is RCIA co-ordinator for St Barbara’s in Muirhead. He first became involved, reluctantly, between 15 and 20 years ago.

In the programmes early days, Peter says, it sometimes seemed as though there were more people on the RCIA teams than there were potential converts but the programme found its stride and Peter recalls there being over 100 candidates in Motherwell Diocese one year.

Emphasising the importance of the programme for the transmission of the Faith, Peter drew a vivid comparison between leaving Catholic school and ‘walking through the Barras market.’

“There’s so many distractions pulling you in different directions,” he said.

Peter emphasised the importance of gratitude in the Christian life and touched upon a challenging question Christian’s may wish to ask themselves while praying: “What did I do for [God]?”

“Once you ask the question” he said, “you have to get involved.”

 

 

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