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Easter Blessings

Traditionally, new Catholics are received into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil Mass by celebrating the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. The ritual that brings individuals into the Catholic church is known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. As the name denotes, typically, this rite is designed for adults. This year at St. Francis, six students from The Franciscan School (TFS) will be welcomed fully into the Catholic Church and the community of St. Francis during the Easter season, and they are very excited. We share their excitement and welcome them all into the community!

Matthew and Maggie, brother and sister, will be welcomed at the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday, March 30th. As their mother, Silvia, says, “Entering the Church on Easter is very symbolic since the children will have a spiritual rebirth and fully accept Jesus as their savior, just like Jesus promised through his resurrection from the dead.” Originally from Costa Rica, they will have family visiting from Costa Rica to help celebrate, and many of their North Carolina friends, who Silvia says have become their extended family, will be joining in the celebration. “The children look forward to continuing to be part of this wonderful community and carry its principles and teachings into adulthood,” says Silvia. As a family, she knows they are blessed. 

Maggie agrees with her mother and adds, “I am really excited for Easter, becoming part of this community, and receiving the Eucharist. I’ve been at TFS for three years and didn’t know much about the Catholic tradition. I  knew I wanted to become a Catholic because of all I learned at TFS.” Maggie is looking forward to becoming an altar server and giving back. Her brother Matthew agrees, “I am very excited. I wanted to join St. Francis, receive the Eucharist, and be a disciple of Jesus.” Matthew plays lacrosse at TFS, this being his first year on the team, and he says his classmates think it’s great that he wants to join the community and are very supportive.  Silvia shares their excitement and anticipation by saying, “When you have God, you’re never alone, and I never want my kids to feel alone.”

Valeria and Sebastian, another TFS brother and sister, also look forward to entering the Church this Easter season. Their mother, Meredith, stresses the importance of faith for their family, “Faith provides meaning and purpose in every person’s life, especially when you bring children into the world. You are now responsible for souls in this world and guiding them in the right direction; it takes on new meaning and responsibility. You want to help them find their purpose and the peace and joy that comes from being a Christian and the comfort in knowing that, as much as we know we live lives of relative comfort compared to many, there are challenges in life and the promise of Jesus and the resurrection is something that will be with them their whole lives.”

Valeria, a well-spoken 5th grader, looks forward the most to receiving the Eucharist and being an altar server. Her friends at TFS are excited, adding, “One of them kind of started this whole thing because I didn’t know what it meant to be Catholic until she introduced me to it.” Her friend had attended TFS for a long time, and Valeria asked her what was happening there before they decided to participate in the school. “We always thought about TFS but were in the COVID era, so I didn’t change schools. However, it had always been in my mind because of all the good things we heard about TFS.” She and her brother, Sebastian, have been at the school for two years. Meredith adds, “We didn’t have great school experiences before TFS. TFS is a special place; not long after they started, they had questions about being Catholic versus Christian.” She adds, “To be fair, they have been in church their whole lives, and, as parents, we wanted them to choose baptism in the Catholic Church. In a convoluted way, we got what we were looking for because the kids came to us and wanted to become Catholic. TFS was the catalyst for them to push towards joining the faith.” 

Both families praise the experience of going through the faith formation process at St. Francis, and it was an excellent adventure for all the children. Meredith specifically thanks Marisa Ferrara, the parish Coordinator of Elementary Formation and First Sacraments. “Marisa has made it an overwhelmingly positive experience, and her enthusiasm comes across,” says Meredith. “She made us feel comfortable and welcome and confident we were going down the right path.”  

The joy of the Easter season is punctuated by welcoming new Catholics into the Church and, even more importantly, our local parish community. This year, including so many students from The Franciscan School adds even more to the celebration as it emphasizes the impact of the role of Catholic education and the parish faith formation program on forming new followers of Jesus Christ as members of our community at St. Francis of Assisi. It truly enhances the joy of Easter!

Author: Mike Watson