Sister Barbara Ann Bogden says candidates should not become Catholic just because a spouse or fiancé is, but because the individual wants to do for himself. In the 20 years she has been directing RCIA for two parishes in western New York, she finds people’s reasons for becoming Catholic vary by age and life experiences.
“There is a common denominator. They are all searching for something. God is not in their life and they want that,” she says.
“Two of my students, adult men, told me they were becoming Catholic because ‘I want to know the truth,’” says Sister Ann Bremmer. “Another student is a man who is not Catholic, nor is his wife. He just wants a deeper relationship with God. His boss is Catholic and has been talking with him about this, and now he wants this relationship with God himself.” The parish in Pennsylvania where S. Annie ministers as pastoral associate doesn’t always wait for Easter to welcome adult Catholics; in February, two people made their First Communion and were confirmed; a third candidate completed Confirmation.
“You don’t always have to wait for Easter,” Sister Ann says. “When people are ready for the next stage, you should take them when they are ready.”
Candidates appear to be unaffected by the sex scandals that plague the Church and have alienated many life-long Catholics. It’s a sign, they say, that the Church is still a viable way to God.
“God is bigger than all the problems of the Church,” Sister Ann says. “We live in a very relativistic world and many people want something deeper, and they are finding that in God and the Church.”
Sisters agree that RCIA is a process, not a class or program that ends when an individual receives the sacraments. They feel blessed to be accompanying candidates on their faith journeys.
“This is God’s work, not mine,” says Sister Barbara Ann. “But I must admit that helping bring people to the Church gives me a shot in the arm.”