At parishes across the world, the Easter Vigil marked a significant milestone for catechumens ready to enter the fullness of the Catholic Church through the sacraments of initiation.
Luke Przybylski grew up Presbyterian in Stillwater, Minnesota. His wife, Beth, grew up Lutheran about 20 miles north in Scandia, Minnesota. The two met in their early 20s while working at the same restaurant. Their paths crossed again when Luke moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where Beth was going to school, and they started dating.
During college, Luke said both lived a fairly secular life, and afterward they shared a sense that something important was missing in their lives.
“We were trying to figure out what’s right for us and why we were feeling this way,” Luke told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, in an interview ahead of the Easter Vigil.
Beth said the Catholic faith just felt right. “I was always drawn to it and I just felt at home.”
Another factor in their decision to become Catholics is having three children. The two oldest had attended public school, but Beth and Luke decided to move them to St. Croix Catholic School. “It just all became clear that this was the right thing to do,” Beth said.
Going through the RCIA process confirmed for them that they made the right decision.
Their two oldest children, Lina, 11, and Penny, 9, also joined the Catholic Church this spring from the RCIA program at St. Mary and St. Michael Parishes in Stillwater. Walter, 2, will be baptized on Mother’s Day, which is May 9.
Building a better
relationship with God
In the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, seven students in grades 1 through 8 at St. Pius X School in Moberly became Catholics at the Easter Vigil. All seven were baptized; all but one also were confirmed and received their first Communion.
With their parents’ permission, they began preparing to join the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children, or RCIC, in February. They met with Deacon John Hill after school on Tuesday afternoons to prepare.
All traveled to the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City with their parents on the First Sunday of Lent to take part in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, with Bishop W. Shawn McKnight.
“I came to this school, and at church, when everybody was receiving the Eucharist, I really wanted to do that,” said Norah Harvey, who transferred to St. Pius X School last year when she was in third grade.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the abrupt shift to distance learning last spring delayed her journey of initiation.
“I’ve been wanting to do this since last year,” she told The Catholic Missourian, the diocesan newspaper. “My dad’s family is Catholic. And I really want to build a better relationship with God and learn more about him and start being a better person.”
First-grader Colton Schultz’s religion teacher asked her students about their baptism, and that awoke in him a desire to be baptized at St. Pius X Church. He wanted it even more after he talked to his mother about it. His twin sisters, fourth-graders Addyson and Olyvia, want to be baptized, too.
“I want to be a part of God’s family and join the Catholic faith like my mom and my dad,” said Addyson.
Virtual, but together
The road to entering the Catholic Church runs from Minnesota to Washington, D.C., for mother and daughter Natoyia Johnson and Autiyonna Johnson.
Natoyia lives north of St. Paul and Autiyonna lives in Washington. On April 3, they each received the sacraments of confirmation and their first Communion at their respective churches — Natoyia at St. Odilia Church in Shoreview, Minnesota, and Autiyonna at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington.
As they prepared to become Catholics, they reviewed their RCIA classwork together — virtually.
“I think it’s so cool we get to share what we are both learning in our own RCIA sessions,” Autiyonna told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington. She and her mother would call each other and discuss what they were learning about the Catholic faith.
“It’s been an awesome journey,” her mother said. “I’ve learned a lot. … It opens up more conversations for us.” And she added, “I think it’s awesome we’re doing this together.”
Barb Umberger, Mark Zimmermann and Jay Nies contributed to this story.