VICTOR — In many ways, Chris Tice is just your average teenager. He has played football and lacrosse at Victor High School, enjoys hip-hop music, works a part-time job and is readying for college.
He’s also committed to his Catholic faith — which, he said, is more typical of teens than some folks may think. Chris emphasized that his age group should be viewed not just by outer appearance, but also by what’s on the inside.
“A lot of my friends go to church,” said Chris, 17. “Everybody’s different in their own way. You can’t just assume they’re not into their religion.”
Chris said he prays to God before and during his athletic contests, and that he’s not afraid to voice his faith. He’s certainly had a lot to talk about these past couple of years, having thrived in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program at St. Patrick Parish.
Although Chris grew up Presbyterian, he had often attended Mass with family members. He said it had bothered him not to be able to receive holy Communion like the rest of the congregation.
“I would have to sit in the pew while they went up,” he said.
He was moved to action when he heard his father and stepmother, Rick and Linda Tice, talking to his sister Kyleigh, 9, about entering RCIA.
“I said ‘do you mind if I convert over too?'” he recalled.
RCIA is offered for people who wish to become fully initiated into the Catholic faith. Despite the words “adults” in the title, it’s also inclusive of youths such as Chris and his sister. People in RCIA are either candidates (people who were baptized in Catholic or recognized Protestant rites but never received first Eucharist and/or confirmation) or catechumens (people who were never baptized).
Chris relished preparatory meetings with other RCIA members and their sponsors, saying he had always wanted to attend religious-education classes. Scott Rutan, coordinator of adult/family faith formation at St. Patrick Parish, was impressed that Chris was involved in many school-related activities “but at the same time (was) demonstrating through his words and insights a genuine faith in Christ.”
Rutan added that Chris was an active RCIA volunteer: helping cook and serve an annual Easter Vigil rehearsal breakfast for new catechumens/candidates; assisting with construction of the baptismal font that is built by RCIA participants every Lent; and supporting Kyleigh through the RCIA process.
“In watching them together, he definitely showed a strong love and devotion to her growth in faith as well. I am convinced that Chris is truly Christ to her — as well as to his family and friends,” Rutan wrote while nominating Chris for the diocesan Hands of Christ award. Hands of Christ recognizes high-school seniors from across the diocese who have made notable contributions in their church, school and community; Chris received his award last fall.
Chris, Kyleigh and their fellow RCIA participants received the sacraments of initiation during the Easter Vigil Mass last April 15.
“It was the coolest thing I ever experienced,” Chris said.
He observed that since that time, his whole family has become more connected with its faith.
“We go to church more often now. We rarely went to church (before),” he said.
Chris said he gets a special pleasure out of seeing current RCIA members acknowledged during Sunday Masses.
“I look forward to seeing the people now in RCIA become Catholic. I know what their feeling is,” he said, adding that if anybody ever approached him to serve as a sponsor, “I would be glad to.”
The soon-to-be graduate plans to attend Monroe Community College this coming fall, and would eventually like to operate his own business. Don’t be surprised if it’s a Daddy Day Care of sorts: Chris worked at a child-care center last summer and loved the experience, despite being responsible for 10 children at a time. He plans to do it again, saying he enjoys running into youngsters from time to time who greet him with an affectionate “Hey, Mr. Chris.” He added that he’s a sought-after baby-sitter in his neighborhood as well.
His secret with managing little kids? Displaying the same kind of optimism that would fit his RCIA experience.
“I just go in there with a positive attitude,” he said.