My name is Tom Drury, a candidate (baptized Christian seeking confirmation into the Catholic Church) completing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) process and preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on Pentecost Sunday. I was baptized Presbyterian, raised in a Christian home, and have been enjoying an increasingly closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ each year, mainly through public/Church worship, prayer and reading the Holy Bible. I started attending Mass at Holy Family Catholic Church in Artesia, CA just prior to the 2011 Easter Vigil with my good friend and now RCIA sponsor Glenn Bacolor. I found the Masses to be very festive and a great source of spiritual food and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and His teachings. I also found Holy Family to be a true family and home, and I wanted to be part of it. Thus, I met with the Holy Family RCIA Director, Rudy Perpinan, and started the RCIA process. At the time, my main objective was to learn the Catholic faith and continue to become closer to God. The RCIA program not only taught me the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but it also had a surprisingly profound positive impact on my faith. I now feel a much deeper sense of understanding of and true fellowship with God and His Church.
Specifically, I learned that the Church founded by Jesus Christ is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. These are the true signs of Christ’s Church. I now know “Catholic” means “universal”. Jesus wants His Church to be open to everyone. We, as His Church, should have the good heart to embrace all including the poor, hungry, homeless, sick, and lonely. As Jesus said: “I came to serve and not to be served.” Jesus wants His Church to promote peace, justice and to motivate all members to serve. RCIA class also helped me to focus on meditation and thereby enhance my connection with God. The Sunday dismissals, which occur immediately after the Homily, provided a great opportunity to explore in depth the Gospel reading at mass and its impact on our lives. Each student is given the time to share how the Word of God touches our lives and forms/transforms our attitudes and conducts. Tremendous insights are gained into how God works in our lives – both ordinary and extraordinary and I have found it to be very inspirational.
I also learned a lot about the 40-day Lent season that starts on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on the Wednesday just prior to Maundy Thursday. And that Lent was originally intended to prepare adults for baptism, as no children were baptized at that time.
My experiences over the Lent season and the Easter Vigil have been particularly rewarding as I have received several of my sacraments for the first time. When I had my first Confession last week, I became fully aware of how heavily sin weighs us down and how liberating it is to know that God has forgiven us, thereby enabling a new start. Although not a sacrament per se, I also felt deeply moved when I professed my Catholic faith for the first time this past Holy Thursday, especially when Father Joachim said “you are now part of the Catholic Church”. Another aspect that made the Easter Vigil especially memorable was the baptism of the catechumens (those converting to Christianity and undergoing instruction just prior to baptism) and how the entire Church cheered and welcomed our new brothers and sisters in Christ with open arms. I also felt the warmth of the Catholic Church even more when taking my first Holy Communion as a Catholic.
Most significantly, my RCIA experience awakened within me a true sense of purpose in life and how important it is to walk with the Lord in living life to its fullest by doing the most good for others. This is causing me to rethink some life plans, and I am now very anxious to see where my faith journey will take me next as He is already unveiling new ways by which I can serve Him.
Thus, I would most strongly recommend RCIA to those of you who haven’t yet experienced it and desire to continue growing in your spiritual journey. Although a significant commitment of time and energy, I believe you would find it to be a most extremely meaningful investment of these resources that would result in a very positive life-changing outcome. Even if you are already a confirmed Catholic, you could still realize the full benefit of RCIA by sponsoring someone or joining the RCIA team that will help new catechumens and candidates through their journeys to become full-fledged Catholics. I want to sincerely thank Rudy and Mila Perpinan and the entire RCIA team for your tireless efforts to ensure a complete and most meaningful RCIA program – I know of no RCIA program as complete and comprehensive as that at Holy Family. I also want to thank Father Raymond for his fine leadership of the entire Holy Family Parish. And his Associates – Father Pius and Father Joachim for their fine example and instruction in the life and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. I also want to thank my fellow parishioners for your prayers and for so warmly welcoming me into Holy Family, and I especially want to thank my sponsor, Glenn Bacolor, for bringing me to Holy Family and for his fine support during my RCIA experience and ongoing spiritual journey.