Learning the Ropes: Growing in the Faith

Seminarian and vocation blogger Brian Ching, C.S.C., who is on a pastoral year at St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, Ariz., has emailed in with his latest post on life and ministry there. Today he shares his experience of being part of the vibrant RCIA there.

Connie Valenzuela gives a presentation at RCIA

One of the groups I have the pleasure of working with this year is the RCIA group or the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. While the Church faces great challenges, including a growing numbers of Catholics who are becoming increasingly disinterested in their faith or apathetic about their faith, the RCIA program here at St. John Vianney provides a dramatic counter example.

The RCIA group is made up of men and women who have never been baptized, were baptized in other Christian denominations, or were baptized as Catholics but never received the other Sacraments of Initiation. We are blessed here at SJV to have two wonderful programs (one in English and one in Spanish) full of people who are full of a desire to grow closer to the Lord and to know more about the Catholic Faith.

For two hours each week on Tuesday nights our group of RCIA Candidates and Catechumens, along with their sponsors, joins the RCIA team for presentations and discussions on various elements of faith and the Church. These presentations cover a wide variety of topics from the more spiritual, such as prayer and the sacraments to the more doctrinal and practical, such as the liturgical year and the structure of the Mass. At the end of November they will also be here for Sunday Mass and will be dismissed to study the Word of God further. It fills me with such great hope and joy each time I see the library filled with the RCIA participants because it is a constant reminder that the Holy Spirit is still very much active in our world, and people are still being captivated by and drawn to the Word of God and to the Church.

RCIA team and participants

Watching the RCIA participants on their journey towards initiation in the Church is simply inspiring. For those of us who were born into the faith, it is easy for us to take our faith for granted; years of religious education have come and gone, and we tend to relegate those lessons to the same place in our brains where we place the Preamble of the Constitution we memorized in the 4th grade or the quadratic equation we memorized in high school. It is easy for us to live our life day to day and to forget the role of God in our lives. Even as a religious in active ministry, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of ministry and leave God out. Seeing a group of folks full of desire to grow in their love and knowledge of God is an inspiration to us all and a reminder that although we have been in the Church since our birth, we too are called to the same mission. Being fully initiated member of the Church, being a priest or a religious does not excuse us from following the same journey. We are so blessed to have our RCIA journey, and I can only pray that their zeal to love, know, and serve the Lord is infectious and spreads among all of us.

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