A couple of years back, John Jerabeck set out in earnest on a spiritual quest. Though intrigued by such non-Christian faith traditions as Buddhism, he knew deep down there was more distance to cover on his journey.
“All the time, in the back of my mind, I felt, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.’ I tried to do whatever I could to shut it out, and it just wasn’t going away,” he recalled.
The call to follow Christ eventually brought Jerabeck to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the process by which people join the Catholic faith. As he prepares to be received as a Catholic during the April 11 Easter Vigil liturgy at Rochester’s St. Boniface Church, Jerabeck said that “I just know the Catholic Church is where I’m supposed to be.”
Jerabeck, 23, acknowledged that he went through “a very kind of rough teenage years; I got involved in things that really weren’t the best for me.” However, he has experienced considerable growth since becoming involved in RCIA.
“Honestly, if I had to go through everything again I’d do it all over,” Jerabeck said, noting that as the Easter Vigil draws near, “I have a peace in my heart.”
Meanwhile, Sara Bodine said she was inspired to enter RCIA while expecting her first child last year because “ultimately, being accepted into the church would complete our family.”
Jacob Raymond was born on Jan. 8 to Bodine and her husband of two years, John. Bodine, 28, said she was raised Protestant but has attended Mass since 2002 with her husband.
“It took me several years to open my heart and mind to different teachings. Over the past couple years I found myself exploring and understanding much more about the Catholic faith. I began to no longer accept the stereotypes that I had once believed. I also was missing out on the Eucharist, and wanting to share in the communion with God was becoming more and more real,” said Bodine, who will officially join the church — with her husband as her sponsor — during the Easter Vigil at St. Michael Church in Penn Yan.
RCIA stories such as Jerabeck and Bodine’s abound throughout the Rochester Diocese. According to Mary Dundas, diocesan coordinator of evangelization and sacramental catechesis, the 77 participating parishes this year feature 193 catechumens such as Jerabeck — people who were never baptized and will receive the sacraments of baptism, holy Communion and confirmation at Easter Vigil Masses — and 258 candidates such as Bodine, who were baptized in Catholic or recognized Protestant rites and will receive holy Communion and confirmation during Easter Vigil Masses. Dundas noted that 70 of the catechumens are children, as are 79 of the candidates. All Saints Parish in Corning-Painted Post has the largest overall group of catechumens/candidates with 15.
The Lenten season is “a time of grace and joy and great purpose” for all RCIA participants, stated Bishop Matthew H. Clark during the first of two Rite of Elections that took place March 1 at Sacred Heart Cathedral (a third Rite of Election was held March 8 at Church of St. Mary Our Mother, Horseheads.) At these rites, the bishop formally and publicly accepts catechumens and candidates as a part of final preparations for their Easter sacraments.
Mercy Sister Edna Slyck, pastoral associate at Ithaca’s Immaculate Conception Parish, observed that the opportunity to deepen one’s faith extends not only to RCIA folks, but the entire parish community as it readies to welcome its new members.
“Lent is a time for personal purification and enlightenment for them and for each of us … let us continue to pray for them and each other,” Sister Slyck wrote in a March 1 parish bulletin article.
Along the lines of community support, Jerabeck said he found an abundance at the Rite of Election March 1.
“It’s pretty amazing, pretty cool to see all these people interested in becoming Catholic. Sometimes you think you’re just unique, that no one else is going on that journey. Then you see all these other people, and it gives you hope,” he remarked.
All are invited to Chrism Mass on April 7
All are invited to join with Bishop Matthew H. Clark during Holy Week for the annual Chrism Mass.
The liturgy will take place Tuesday, April 7, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 296 Flower City Park, Rochester. Bishop Clark will bless three oils during the Mass: the Oil of the Sick, used for the Anointing of the Sick; the Oil of the Catechumens, for baptism; and the Sacred Chrism, for confirmation and ordination. After the oils are blessed, they will be distributed to parish representatives who will then take them back to their faith communities to be used throughout the year.
The Chrism Mass is celebrated each year on the Tuesday of Holy Week. Members of faith communities from all over the diocese traditionally take part. The night also is enhanced by a sizeable number of concelebrating priests who renew their commitments to priestly ministry during the Mass.