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Father Muench Says...

Remembering Jim’s story

October 6, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Recently, I was invited to be involved in this year’s Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program in this parish. I am sure you remember this program that prepares a person to a deeper understanding of the teachings of our Catholic Church and the teachings of the Lord Jesus. This program often involves some who are not Catholic but are interested in the Catholic Church. Many find this an opportunity to prepare to enter the Catholic Church. I have always enjoyed being a part of RCIA in each of the parishes that I have served. I have found my involvement as personally enriching.

My favorite RCIA memory is Jim’s story. I still remember the Saturday morning a rather long time ago when the rectory doorbell rang. Saturday is usually rather quiet, so I was surprised. Jim was at the door. I had met him before, and I knew that he was not a Catholic. He said to me, “I would like to join up.” Of course, I replied, “Join what!” He said, “I want to be a Catholic.”

So, we sat down to talk. I was certainly pleased to meet someone who would want to be a Catholic. Jim was ready to join right then and there. So, I had to convince him that we would want him to take his time. The Church wanted him to hear the whole message of the Catholic Church. I wanted him to realize that it would be better if he learned and recognized all that it means to be Catholic. I wanted him to experience our RCIA program.

RCIA is more than an educational program. This program hopes to lead a person to realize that being involved in the Catholic Church would mean a definite change in life. This is about making a decision – a decision for Jesus. This is finding a faith that would radically change a person’s whole life. This is about a decision that means a powerful change in life.

Back to Jim. I was curious why he was so definite about his decision. Jim explained to me that he works at the plant in town next to a fellow who is Catholic, and he wants what this fellow has got. Jim has noticed this fellow’s faith in so many little things and even big things. I knew who he was talking about, and I knew that this fellow would be rather surprised that he had led someone to become a Catholic. I didn’t really talk with him, but I know he would have told me that he was just an ordinary Catholic trying to live a good life. This is something for each of us to consider. Can you imagine that you might lead someone to seek entrance into the Catholic Church as you live your Catholic faith each day?

Many have been invited to enter the RCIA program by a friend or a relative. You may have had a conversation with someone about the Catholic Church and the teachings of Jesus. You may have met someone with questions – someone who has demonstrated an interest in Catholicism. I want to urge you not to hesitate to invite them to the RCIA program in your parish so that they may get a few answers. Even better, promise to accompany them to the program on this challenging path to a deeper understanding of our Church.

Jim became a Catholic, a rather active Catholic. He truly found happiness in being a Catholic. Jim died a few years ago and one of the pall bearers at his funeral Mass was that fellow that influenced him to investigate the Catholic Church. I must admit that each time I go to be part of an RCIA meeting, I think of Jim.

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