As my title states, I am joining the church because I love Jesus - I love him more everyday. The first time I entered my local parish for mass on an early Fall morning, I knew that I was home. Throughout the past few months, I have been blessed, and continue to grow in faith. Adoration was, and continues to be the single most life-changing encounter with the Lord that I have.
Sadly, what is detracting from my experience as an RCIA candidate is the human element. I entered the RCIA program rather late - in October of this year. While the first couple of months were rather uneventful in terms of incidents, this past month or so has caused me to consider waiting a time, and enter an RCIA program at another parish.
When I joined with my wife, we were still several months away from the arrival of our firstborn, but did anticipate a major change in our availability once he arrived. He has recently arrived, and there is a palpable change in the disposition of the catechists and candidates/catechumens toward us. Why? I have no reasonable idea, but here are the likely reasons:
- We have missed a few sessions due to a complicated pregnancy (we were not told that attendance was mandatory - in fact, we were told the contrary)
- We did not allow ourselves to be rushed into a shotgun convalidation with less than a week’s notice before Ash Wednesday (the pastoral associate in charge of this process was incredibly condescending and short-tempered)
- We do not attend the so-called RCIA mass because there are multiple mass times and a different situation each Sunday - I celebrate mass, and spend time with Him each week when/where my family can attend
- We have had to participate in a couple of rites separately
- After actually attending the RCIA mass this past weekend, the lead catechist and candidates regarded us with palpable contempt - we went specifically to show our “friends” our new baby
- After having received numerous “missed meeting” and “we miss you” Emails (to which I responded to each individually with tact and charity), I finally asked the lead catechist if he would advise us to cease RCIA for the time-being, but he replied that anything we missed could be made up via telecommuting
- From the beginning, our sponsors seemed to want little to do with us - and often sat at other tables and chatted with their friends. Our sponsors rarely sat next to us at mass, and never responded to communication outside of the meetings. Our sponsors only spoke to us when specifically instructed to do so.
Prior to being physically absent from RICA, my heart and mind remained open to Him and His Holy Church. Many of who seemed to have reverted back to strangers had become family after an RCIA candidate/catechumen retreat. I had begun to cultivate friendships with the catechists, and had even been invited to share portions of my conversion experience at the RCIA meetings. After yesterday, however, I feel like I am a lad again, incurring the judgment and wrath of the cliques at the protestant church of my youth.
Additionally, I had reached out to a couple of NPOs and the KOC, as I would like to devote my free time and talents, and sacrifice for those in need in my community. I have heard nada, which contradicts the timetables I had been given to receive replies about start times/induction.
I am very disappointed with how my family is being treated. I am not here to serve man or please man as one would please the IT girl in a made-for-television Disney teen film. I am here to deny my life - to pick up my cross and follow Jesus. Nothing could keep me from Him, but as of now I am still in the RCIA program, and the experience just isn’t sitting well with me.