By Rachel Conway and Eugene Morris
This year has unfolded quite differently than any of us expected. A pandemic, resultant economic downturn, and a long overdue confrontation with racial injustices in our country sometimes has us wondering where God might be found in all of this. But we know that God is here. God is not indifferent or a bystander, immune to our suffering. God suffers with us in our pain and discomfort.
This year has been a year of isolation, but also one of increased caring and connections; a year of deprivation and loss, but also of overflowing generosity and fullness; a year of fear, but also of renewed confidence in the strength and life that God so freely gives. The pandemic has only reminded Catholics that God’s word is indeed “sweeter than honey” and the presence of Christ in the church is a joy and a balm that soothes souls.
This renewed wisdom is what the Church offers to seekers through its Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and RCIA adapted for children. In the midst of the desolations of this year, how can we Catholics find it in us right now to invite others to “come and see” our community? But most especially at this time, the parish is ready to welcome (admittedly sometimes “virtually”) informally or formally those who seek to understand the meaning of this difficult — and perhaps promising — year. And those of us welcoming potential new Catholics to Holy Trinity are privileged to witness God’s presence: in the midst of what feels like chaos, the Holy Spirit is hard at work.
The process welcomes any individuals interested in learning more about the Christian faith in the Catholic tradition. For those who after a period of “inquiry” choose to “try on” this life, the catechumenate for unbaptized individuals and a similar process for those already baptized in other Christian communities offer support for reflecting on God’s word and experiencing the life of service and prayer of the parish faith community.
Every Tuesday, we welcome those who have answered the call of the Holy Spirit to explore a deeper relationship with God through RCIA Inquiry meetings. The RCIA Inquiry phase is an opportunity for those interested in becoming Catholic to have a first glimpse at what it means to be a member of the Church. Those who feel called to learn more about the Christian faith in the Catholic tradition spend time with our small group as they discern their interest in moving forward in the RCIA process.
We welcome those who have expressed interest in becoming Catholic by answering their questions, discussing moments of Grace in our weeks, and unpacking the Gospel. While we all very much long to be together physically every Tuesday night in the Faber Room, our virtual Inquiry meetings continue to allow those interested in the Catholic tradition to begin their discernment process.
All of our Inquirers are alike in their response to the Holy Spirit’s call to more deeply explore their faith. However, those we meet through RCIA Inquiry are diverse in race, gender, age, socioeconomic status, faith background, and life experience. These differences are not abandoned at our virtual “door.” We are inspired by the Inquirers’ courage these last few months. They are unafraid to bring their experiences to the table to discuss an array of social justice issues we face today. They continue to show up to learn about prayer, faith, and life as a Catholic. They demonstrate tremendous courage as they do not step away from the difficult questions, those with which even experienced theologians grapple.
This year of crises has only further demonstrated the power of Christ’s messages: “be not afraid” and “love one another.” Through this time, the parish and its RCIA continue to offer welcome and support to all who need to hear those messages.
If you do not have an active spiritual practice or church, please consider whether Holy Trinity’s RCIA can be a place for you to explore what God may be offering you in life. If you are a parishioner and know someone who might need a spiritual home, please consider inviting them to church with you and even suggesting that they might be ready to learn more about the faith through the RCIA.