Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Apr
  • 4

A new beginning

Posted By April 4, 2013 | 12:46 pm | Lead Story #1
0545Elect gardnWEB

By Tanya Connor

“Happy Easter!” the voice rang out through the store. A child was sharing her joy.
“I don’t believe in Jesus,” a man responded.
“That’s OK, because he loves you and he died for you anyway,” replied the child.
Father Frederick D. Fraini III, associate pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Gardner, told this story in his homily at the parishes’ Easter Vigil Saturday at Holy Rosary.
“I marvel at that little girl – what an instrument,” he said of the member of one of his former parishes.
“You should attract people as that little girl did,” he told the people about to receive the sacraments of initiation from their pastor, Father Brian P. O’Toole. “They should crave what you will receive in a few minutes.”
A couple from Sacred Heart Parish and siblings from Sacred Heart Elementary School awaited their first Communion and confirmation. Two adults and seven youth awaited those sacraments and baptism.
“It was an incredible group to work with,” said Cindy Trainque, who taught them all together and was godmother for four. “It was a powerful experience for me.”
“We’re so proud of you,” Father Fraini told them. He said he’d joked earlier: “You’re missing your caps; you’ve got the gowns.”
But, he said, “Tonight is not the end … It’s the beginning of your pathway to the kingdom. … We’ve handed each and every one of you a personal relationship with the living God. … Run to him each and every single day … and be amazed at what you will accomplish through him.”
He said they are called to bring his kingdom on earth, like the child in the store. But “Catholics are chicken sometimes, because we’re afraid of one little word, ‘No’ – rejection,” he said.
After Mass, some of the newly initiated shared their joy and faith with The Catholic Free Press.
“I’m excited, because I just got baptized,” said Gianna Rose Howlett, an 8-year-old from Our Lady of the Rosary Elementary School. “It’s very special.”
Ariana Deery, a 9-year-old from Sacred Heart Elementary who received all three sacraments, said she was happy she can now go to Communion with her class.
Anastasia Guy, a 15-year-old from Sacred Heart Parish who received all three sacraments, said she felt “really happy, excited, being a Catholic now, being part of the Church.”
“I’m, like, filled with joy right now, because it changes you,” she said. “It fills me with this love and gets rid of all that negative feeling” from life’s trials.
“We believe that when we took in the Body of Christ, it has changed us forever,” said her mother, Lisa Guy, who was confirmed and received her first Communion with her husband, Joseph Guy. “Father Fred’s right – this is a beginning for us.”
“All of our lives we never fit in anywhere,” she said later. In the Catholic Church she found people who thought like she did.
She said she was baptized in a Congregational church, later attended a Baptist church and she and her husband tried out different churches.
When she told her co-worker Giselle Grover, who later became her sponsor, about seeing a white dove, Mrs. Grover talked to her about the Holy Spirit and suggested she attend Mass, she said.
“It was so beautiful, the way the Catholics love and respect Jesus,” Mrs. Guy marveled. She joined the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at the parish she attended. Feeling it wasn’t well organized, she switched to the RCIA at Sacred Heart and Holy Rosary, she said.
Her husband felt he should be Protestant, until he learned the church he was attending would “marry” gay couples, she said.
“Isn’t there any church that stands up for what God says?” he asked her.
“Our Church does,” she said of the Catholic Church. “They want to protect every life and they respect marriage between a man and a woman.”
They started going to the Catholic church, and their daughter became excited and wanted to be baptized, she said.
Mrs. Guy said she learned Catholics have more books of Scripture than Protestants do and can trace their religion back to St. Peter.
Mr. Guy said he learned much from Bible studies with Protestants, but from Catholics he learned about the Eucharist and the communion of saints.
Recently he learned he was baptized Catholic, he said; his parents weren’t practicing, but his mother told him about God. Seeking, he attended Protestant churches.
“They didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle like the Catholic Church did,” he said. “The wine and the bread is symbolic, rather than the blood and body of Christ,” in Protestant churches.
“It was really a beautiful ceremony,” he said of the Easter Vigil. “The flowers, the incense, the candles, the singing – everything blended together to just paint a wonderful picture of how much everyone loves the Lord here.
“I’m happy that now I’m part of the family, part of the body of Christ, that now I can get the Eucharist, and the transformation will begin. I have never felt anything so right in all my life. I think God has transformed me in a lot of ways,” but that transformation will be more solid with the reception of the Eucharist.
The Easter Vigil was a family affair for Sindy Vasquez too.
“It’s been amazing – to be able to share the same day with them; my son and I took the class together,” she said of her 11-year-old, Ahlex Thompson, with whom she received all three sacraments, and her 2-year-old, Halee Vasquez, who was baptized. (Her 5-year-old was previously baptized.)
“I had gone last year to the Easter Vigil for the first time,” said Elizabeth Viens, of Holy Rosary Parish, who received all three sacraments Saturday. “It’s much different when you’re doing it yourself. … The baptism – being an adult you understand a lot more, versus a baby. It’s something you really want to do.”
She said she was reared in a Baptist church; her father had been Catholic, but her mother was Baptist and they’re both active in the Baptist church now. Ms. Viens said she chose not to be baptized even when others her age were.
“I didn’t feel a strong connection with the Baptist church,” she explained. Sometimes she went to the Catholic church with friends or her aunt.
“I was always drawn to the Catholic Church,” she said.
In November 2011 she started going to Holy Rosary with her friend Claudette Borey, with the idea of becoming Catholic, but she didn’t want to hurt her parents, she said.
“I wanted to get married in the Catholic Church,” she said. “I wanted to marry somebody who has the same beliefs and wants to be active in his Church.” (Now she’s engaged to Holy Rosary member Richard Barber.)
Becoming Catholic is the best thing she could have done for herself, she said.
“I feel like I learned so much,” she said. “Father Brian and Father Fred – they make you want more, to learn more and to keep coming back.”