New converts drawn by truth of the Church
By Nissa LaPoint
Photo by James Baca/DCR
Two additional Rite of Election liturgies will be held there March 4. During the liturgies, catechumens affirm their intention to become Catholic and meet the local shepherd of the Church.
Some 1,200 people will enter the archdiocesan Church at Easter Vigil.
Jeff Craig wasn’t convinced.
After going through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults twice at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial, 63-year-old Craig said he wasn’t getting the answers to his questions.
“I was looking for someone to make an argument about the Catholic faith,” he said. “I just told them I wasn’t ready.”
Some 22 years later, Craig is in RCIA again and looking forward to his baptism in the Church, he said.
He realized that his approach to the Catholic Church was misguided.
“I wasn’t going at it from a faith or feeling approach but rather from a factual learning concept,” Craig said. “That really has changed my life.”
Craig, who retired after 36 years with the Department of the Interior, will join the hundreds of other catechumens (those who have not been baptized) and candidates (those baptized in another church) from parishes across the archdiocese who are preparing for the sacraments of initiation into the Church this year.
During two Masses Feb. 26 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, catechumens participated in the first of the rites necessary before receiving the sacraments.
Craig said he planned to attend the 4:30 p.m. Mass Feb. 26 at the cathedral with the other catechumens from his parish for the Rite of Election, during which catechumens affirm their intention to join the Church. The Church will make its “election” of the catechumens to receive the sacraments. They also had the opportunity to meet with Bishop James Conley, apostolic administrator of the Denver Archdiocese.
Others participating in the rite last weekend have made a journey through many churches before finding their place at the Catholic Church.
Erin Machamer, a catechumen at St. Thomas More, said she didn’t feel at home until she went to Mass.
“It just felt so amazing to be part of the tradition and feel the spirit there,” 28-year-old Machamer said.
She was involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a time, she said.
“But after really examining their doctrines, I didn’t believe it,” Machamer said. “I started going to non-denominational churches, but I never felt that they offered all that Christ taught. Then when I started going church shopping, if you will, the feeling I had (after attending) Mass was a nice confirmation of the faith.”
While in classes at RCIA, Machamer said she learned a lot about the basic doctrines of the faith that are intellectually enlightening. It led her to believe in the Gospel, she said.
Other catechumens have spent a lifetime before finding the truth in the Catholic Church.
St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Central City is instructing its first two RCIA candidates in the mission church’s history. Mark Salathiel, a 71-year-old retired chemical engineer, is one of them.
“It would have been nice to join quite some time ago, but I’m very excited about joining now,” Salathiel said.
For years he belonged to a Methodist church in Texas before attending college then moving to Colorado with his wife and sponsor, Sharon.
“When I would hear things about Jesus Christ and Mary it seemed like Mary got the ‘short shrift,’” Salathiel said. “That didn’t seem like it was quite right.”
In college, Salathiel often discussed religion with those of other faiths, he said. When talking about salvation with Southern Baptists, they often would tell him that once a person is saved then they’re always saved, but if a person sins it proves that they were not saved, he said.
“I got worn out with arguing with people and I just backed out at that point,” Salathiel said.
It wasn’t until last year that he noticed the beautiful architecture of St. Mary’s and he decided to go to Mass with his wife and sign up for classes with the Denver Catholic Biblical School.
Discussion about Scripture hit him “like a ‘T’” and he liked what he saw at the parish.
“It just kept fitting, fitting and fitting,” he said. “Mary didn’t get ‘short shrift.’ It was very devout. The people were warm to anybody that was there. They didn’t ‘know me from Adam’ but it was a very rewarding feeling.”
All of the catechumens said they’re looking forward to taking their first steps into the Church.
Craig’s faith has changed him for the better, he said, and helped him look for the good in others. Simply going to Mass gives him goose bumps, he said.
For Machamer, it’s the beginning of a lifetime in service to Christ.
“It’s going to be a life-long commitment, and I think it’s a really big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly,” she said. “I’m really excited about it.”
Some 1,200 catechumens and candidates in the archdiocese will be received into the Church at Easter Vigil (April 7).