The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 21, 2000 Issue
Local News

Newest to come to the church tell their stories

By Patricia Kasten
Compass Associate Editor

This Easter, parishes across the diocese will welcome over 300 new members of the church. They will receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. These sacraments -- Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist -- will be the culmination of months, even years, of formation in our faith. Each of these sacraments imparts special graces -- gifts of love and life -- from God.

Baptism begins our new life in Christ. We enter the Church, the Body of Christ, the community of believers through the waters of Baptism.

Confirmation strengthens that life in Christ. This sacrament brings us the fullness of the Spirit and completes the grace of Baptism. It deepens our relationship with Christ and his Church and guides us in bearing witness to the faith in both words and deeds.

Eucharist nourishes our life in Christ. This is the summit of Christian life. Through it, we are united with Christ and with each other in his body. Just as our physical bodies need food, so do our souls need nourishment for our journey to God.

"The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sactifying the world in Christ and of the worship people offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit" (Cathechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1325).

Many of us entered the Church through infant baptism, received Eucharist as children, and were confirmed as teenagers. Our experience of joining the church is different from those who are being initiated at the Easter Vigil. However, since these sacraments are performed in our presence -- the presence of the Body of Christ -- we participate in the joy and grace of this moment.

Besides hearing from those who have already become full members of the Catholic Church, The Compass also received faith stories from four people who will enter the church at the Easter Vigil on April 22. Their stories follow:

I am a RCIA candidate anxiously awaiting the Easter Vigil so I may become part of a wonderful community. My journey was a long road with many turns. Throughout my early adult years, I struggled to gain a sense of identity and lost sight of the strong faith instilled as a child within the Lutheran Church.

My world changed after meeting my husband. His family's strong Catholic faith repeatedly amazed me and I yearned for the same. Despite our wonderful marriage and my return to the Lutheran Church, I struggled with my inner peace. It took a miracle and family tragedy to wake me up to God's message.

I decided to convert to the Catholic religion to join my husband's spiritual journey through life and, ironically, we are expecting our first child. The RCIA program has been more rewarding spiritually and emotionally than I ever imagined. As I look anxiously to the future with my family, I find comfort knowing we are surrounded by God's love and feel tremendous joy at the peace I found dwelling within my heart. Thank you to my family and RCIA directors/sponsor for your love and patience in my journey. I am honored to become Catholic.

Kimberley Biese, Appleton

Growing up in a Protestant home, I studied the Bible and became familiar with God's word. It was only much later in my life however, when I came to experience the true meaning of God's love for me through the Catholic Church.

Through the guidance and support of my RCIA catechists and sponsors, I have begun my journey to discover and live my life in Christ. I feel that the church is my home. I am experiencing the warmth and nurturing of the Christian community for the first time in my life. I know that my journey has just begun, but I can count on the support and love from my heavenly Father through Jesus.

Ivy Netzel, Holy Innocents, Manitowoc

I appreciate every stage of my learning through the RCIA process. The following is part of my recent experience. (The ceremony of Election at Our Lady of Lourdes occurred at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, March 12.

(3-13-00, 3 a.m.) I cannot sleep . . . too much excitement. Life is a mystery. I pray God forever gives me guidance. I get up and start looking for writing pad and pen. I feel elated. Today was wonderful. I wanted to hold the book of Election above my head and run with it . . . like the Olympic Gold Medal Winner around the circumference of the Chapel, shouting "We did it! We did it! We are in the book! I wanted to not be formal . . . to leap with joy. To grab Reverend Bishop's hands and jump up and down in circles with glee. I wanted to not be subdued . . . to wear a jersey with emblazoned words that said CATHOLIC. With letters on the back which said Gollnick - No. 254 (or whatever). I wanted to not be quiet . . . to sing loudly the beautiful songs that touched my heart with love. To let my tears flow with joy as I felt the ceremony unfold. Inside me I said, Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, God. In my thoughts, in my visions, I see my RCIA friends and sponsors . . . always smiling . . . always feeling what I feel. How blessed they are!

I want to shake everybody's hands and say, aren't we lucky? I want to hear everyone say back, Yes, we are! Indeed we know. In the roar of the remembered event, there is suddenly silence . . . Calling us together. I set my pen aside and drift quietly off to sleep.

Genny Golnick, St. John the Baptist, Howard

I have been married for 17 years and for at least 12 of those years, I've attended St. Casimir Catholic Church with my wife and family who are Catholic.

You may ask, "Why did it take so long for you to convert to Catholicism?" My answer can only be that it didn't feel like it was what I needed to do until now. I felt down deep that it was the right thing to do and now was the right time. It had to be up to me and me alone to make the decision. I wasn't going to convert just to appease anyone; it had to come from my heart and soul. God would move me to action in his time table. My wife never pushed me and for his I thank her and as I go through the RCIA process, I'm proud to have her as my sponsor.

During the past weeks, I've learned much in the Catholic faith, history, teachings and in myself. Many things that I had thought I knew about being Catholic when I was growing up have proved to be untrue. Now my turn to let others know the Catholic ways and traditions is coming up. It's with a sense of pride that I can walk into church knowing I'm becoming a member of this special faith community and family. My hope is that my children will see that their father took a step forward and stood up for his beliefs and was proud to be a Catholic.

-- Mark Stock, St. Casimir, Northeim

For a list of names of those who will enter the Church at the Easter Vigil see the story "Over 300 people will enter the church at Easter Vigil."

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